ACSEP 01 November 2016

Do people really know what a Social Enterprise is? Public Perception Survey 2016

In 2016, the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) commissioned ACSEP at NUS Business School to conduct a Public Perception Study on awareness and understanding of social enterprises, purchasing behaviour, and the motivations for buying from social enterprises.

A total of 2,000 questionnaires were distributed and 1,888 people returned valid responses. It was heartening to note the 52-percent increase in public awareness of social enterprise from 2010.

Increased Public Awareness of Social Enterprises (SEs)

Understanding of social enterprises has also grown, with seven out of 10 respondents able to correctly categorise at least one of three social enterprises in the survey questionnaire. A highlight of the public perception study is respondents identified the top three social goals in Singapore as focused on the most needy groups in the community, i.e., people with disabilities, people/families with low income, and people with health conditions.

To drive continuous improvement and further growth in the sector, stakeholders were called upon to work on action plans. In particular, raiSE would want to serve as the main driver for raising public awareness of social enterprises, helping with funding, and providing advisory/training.

Proposed Action Plan for Social Enterprises

  • Increase their competitiveness through innovations to improve the quality of existing products and create new and unique products.
  • Ensure they champion social causes that resonate with the public perception of greatest social needs.
  • Differentiate themselves from traditional businesses, train social entrepreneurs in branding and marketing their enterprises to the public.

Proposed Action Plan for raiSE

  • Step up public communication efforts to increase awareness of raiSE and enhance understanding of social enterprises and their twin goals of doing good while making a profit. Adopt a multipronged approach, taking into consideration the changed media environment where communication has become increasingly conversational (two-way) and centred around credible influencers and passionate advocates.
  • Provide consulting/training to help build the capabilities of social enterprises.
  • Collaborate with media to highlight the efforts of social enterprises and the challenges they face while working to address social needs in the community.

The 2016 Public Perception Survey offers valuable insights into how public perception of the social enterprise sector and buying behaviour have changed since the 2010 survey. While there is significant increase in the awareness and understanding of social enterprises, the study points to the need to consider emerging challenges in the public’s buying behaviour. With appropriate emphasis on the quality and uniqueness of the products or services offered and the social cause they represent, the sector could potentially be propelled to greater heights.

You can download the full and summary reports here:

Full Report
Summary Report