It takes a lot to stand out in your industry–a great product, clever branding, and an exceptional customer experience. A lot of effort goes into connecting with consumers, but increasingly, buyers are looking for more. Today, customers want to know how the brands they love are making a positive impact. In short, are they socially responsible?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is when a business aims to support specific charitable goals or initiatives. It’s when a company expands its scope beyond profit and incorporates philanthropy into its business model. But, socially responsible business practices can actually help a company thrive - more than half of consumers in the United States consider a company’s social responsibility when making a purchase.
Three Reasons to Make CSR Part of Your Strategy
So, it’s clear that social responsibility can help your brand and the world. Marketing plays a key role in making sure that consumers know about the good work your brand is doing, generating brand allegiance and helping you stand out. Wondering how to make CSR a successful part of your strategy? Here are some tips.
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Initiatives that speak to customers
In order for CSR to seem authentic, it’s important that the causes you support make sense for your brand and customer base. For example, you wouldn’t take it seriously if a designer of fur coats called for an end to animal cruelty. The most successful CSR strategies tie in to the ethos of the brand. Outdoor apparel maker Patagonia is a great example; the brand donates 1% of all its sales to environmental causes. Bottom line, make sure your CSR strategy rings true.
CSR is more than marketing
For brands, the internet is a way to reach more people than ever before. But it also means those potential customers are better informed and have more options than at any point in the past. Rest assured that buyers are researching brands and sharing what they know–that’s why transparency is crucial. It’s important that brands make a commitment to CSR that lasts beyond the cycle of a single promotional campaign. If not, the company could be perceived as opportunistic or untrustworthy. Be transparent about what your CSR goals are and how you hope to achieve them. And, but upfront about where you are on the journey. Customers appreciate honesty.
CSR affects your bottom line
Countless surveys attest to the fact that having good ethical practices can make or break a company - that goes for big corporations and small start-ups. Consumers want to know they are spending their hard earned cash at companies that align with their values.
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A 2019 survey discovered that 25% of consumers and 22% of investors have a “zero tolerance” stance toward businesses with “questionable” ethics. The same survey discovered that 55% of Americans thought that companies should have a clear stance on the big issues of the day - from social issues to climate justice. And, building a reputation as a socially responsible company also helps attract and retain talent.
A 2020 survey found that a whopping 69% of employees would decline to work for a company without a clear set of values. Today, the role companies play on the world stage is important, and businesses are in a unique position to make a difference - and what’s more, employees and customers care.
Why Is Social Responsibility Important in Marketing?
Marketing exists to share the key messages of a company with the world at large. Normally, that includes the reasons why a product is desirable and how to get a hold of it. But, as consumer behavior changes, marketing needs to adapt its messaging to meet the moment. Today, consumers demand to know more about what a company stands for and how it backs up its claims.
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Viewed this way, Corporate Social Responsibility is just like any other product feature – it needs to be shared and appreciated. With CSR on your side, your brand isn’t just selling a product, it’s selling a set of values. Bottom line: put as much effort into marketing your brand’s philanthropic initiatives as you do sharing all the reasons your product is great. After all, marketing is a chance for your organization's good works to be doubly impactful – good for people and for your brand!
5 Examples of CSR Marketing
Looking for a little inspiration? When it comes to CSR, there are certain companies who just get it, combining a great product with CSR marketing that highlights the company’s charitable side. We’ve collected five examples of CSR marketing done right.
Admit it, TOMS is probably one of the first names that came to mind when you heard the phrase “corporate social responsibility.” The brand has become synonymous with successful, socially impactful business practices ever since 2006, when it launched its famous “one for one” initiative. The idea was simple - for every pair of shoes sold, one pair of shoes would be donated. TOMS is also a great example of a brand that was able to react to negative feedback. Since some controversy around the “one for one” program brought the company under scrutiny, TOMS pivoted its business model and now donates ⅓ of profits to grassroots organizations that focus on a variety of issues, everything from supporting youth to improving mental health.
This video is a great example of CSR video communication. On the surface, it looks like any other ad for a trendy shoe company: upbeat music, fun visuals, and colorful shoes. But, watch a little longer and the video hits you with statistics about TOMS support of grassroots organizations. Talk about the best of both worlds!
The name IKEA might bring to mind inexpensive, flat-packed furniture and delicious meatballs, but the company also has a solid reputation for building social responsibility into its business model. IKEA takes a comprehensive approach to CSR, covering everything from a more efficient supply chain to a supplier code of conduct that ensures employees are treated fairly. Curious customers can look at the company’s sustainability reports every year, and many products come with information on their green credentials. IKEA is a good example of how social responsibility can lead to customer loyalty. Those infamous flat packs help IKEA keep their shopping costs low (and improve sustainability), which means customers enjoy a lower price per item. Talk about a “win win!”
This short and sweet promotional video for IKEA puts the focus on the people behind the brand, asking them to share more about their favorite corporate values. It’s quick, to the point, and humanizes the lofty subject of corporate social responsibility through the viewpoints of real people. Another example of CSR marketing done right!
3. Ben and Jerry’s
Ben and Jerry’s might be your first thought when you are thinking of indulging, but the iconic ice cream brand is also well known for their charitable initiatives. It all started in the eighties when the company debuted the “peace pop,” a delicious vanilla and dark chocolate ice cream bar, and devoted one percent of sales to initiatives that promoted peace. Ever since, Ben and Jerry’s has supported a range of charitable endeavors, with special interest in animal welfare, reducing carbon emissions, and social justice. The commitment to charity has done wonders - customers are happy to pay a premium for a brand that churns out delicious ice cream and simultaneously supports good causes.
Ben and Jerry’s strikes just the right tone with this video highlighting the brand’s “values led sourcing.” Ethical supply chains and continuous improvement models are big concepts to break down in under two minutes, but this Ben and Jerry’s video makes the ideas accessible and boils it all down to what consumers want to know.
If you’ve ever wandered into a Lush store, you know the cosmetics company makes great smelling, luxurious bath products. What you might not know is that every bath bomb and shampoo bar is made with sustainability in mind. Many of the products are sold without excess packaging, and the store’s recycling program is legendary. In addition, Lush stores prioritize renewable energy and sustainable supply chains, as well as working with suppliers who meet with Lush’s ethical standards. Building a climate-conscious brand has paid off. Lush is now synonymous with hippie-chic, earth-friendly indulgence. No small feat for a young brand that opened its first store in 1995.
It’s not hard to make a fizzy, frosty bath bomb look cool, but this ad from Lush goes beyond mere aesthetics and makes sure the viewer knows that the bath bombs Lush is famous for have some serious CSR credibility too. Packaging free, not tested on animals, handmade - there’s a lot to cover in sixty seconds, and this short video packs it in!
Patagonia, and its founder Yvon Chouinard, are some of the biggest names in corporate social responsibility. Known for outdoor apparel, the brand started in the seventies in California - a hub for outdoor activity and progressive causes. Over the years, the brand has grown a unique business model with climate responsibility and fair labor for all at the forefront. Patagonia also runs a recycling and mending program that helps ensure their clothing lasts longer - and stays out of landfills. Most impressive of all, Chouinard recently gave away his company in support of organizations that help fight climate change. “It’s been nearly 50 years since we began our experiment in responsible business, and we are just getting started,” he says.
Corporate Social Responsibility - The Take Away
We’ve already covered why Corporate Social Responsibility is good for business, and why it’s vital that you use your marketing prowess to make sure customers know where you stand.
Luckily, there are countless ways to spread the word, from social media campaigns to special, time-sensitive promotions. First and foremost, video is a great way to let your customer base know all about your brand’s charitable initiatives, be it short social-media videos or more in-depth pieces for your website. PlayPlay’s super-simple video creation software is here to help.