WHAT influences your decision when you buy a product or service?

Apparently, it is often corporate social responsibility that affects our purchasing decisions.

Research by Business in the Community/Research International (UK) Ltd identified that that when price and quality are equal, 81 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy products associated with a good cause.

A recent Mori survey revealed that one in five consumers worldwide will either, what they call, "reward or punish" a company, based on perceived social performance and more than a third of consumers professed to care about a company's social and environmental responsibilities.

It also revealed that 18 per cent of consumers have boycotted a company's products on ethical grounds and 13 per cent buy because they perceive that a company has a good corporate ethical and social policy. And 34 per cent bought a product or service because of a link to a charitable organisation.

A good or bad social corporate image can also affect staff morale and retention.

The Business in the Community/Research International (UK) Ltd project also revealed that 73 per cent of people said they would be more loyal to an employer that supports the local community. The message seems to be if you want the best staff you have to act responsibly.

This seems particularly true of the graduate population, who want their future employer to behaves as a good citizen.

The Government is also encouraging the importance of corporate social responsibility.

As one of the largest mobile network operators, Orange has established a number of local community schemes around the UK designed to regenerate or improve local communities and help their residents.

Orange is committed to its communities, where it is a major employer, through a number of sponsorships. These include the Orange WOW festival in North Shields and the Orange Darlington festival.

All of these measures are designed to allow Orange to communicate with local communities on a personal level and give something back to the regions in which it operates.

Sue Lambert, Head of Business Development at Orang