Two-thirds of consumers say they would prefer to buy from socially responsible companies.

The socially conscious consumer is one who’s willing to pay more for products from companies that give back to society: While two-thirds of respondents to a 56-country Nielsen study said they prefer to buy from socially responsible companies, fewer than half (46%) would actually spend more to do so. As this chart shows, this cohort feels most strongly about environmental causes, and majorities believe companies have some responsibility to provide relief for extreme poverty/hunger and natural disasters.

Interestingly, these consumers are more likely to feel companies should help enable people to thrive in today’s economy—by supporting STEM training and education, access to technology and small businesses/entrepreneurs—than try to combat core health problems like widespread diseases (AIDS, cancers, etc.) and child mortality. This seems to be a sign of falling faith in governments’ ability to give their citizens the tools they need to get a leg up.

For more on what’s trending in social good, and actionable recommendations for brands, see our September 2011 report, available here.