While Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may be defined as the obligation of an organization towards the interests and the welfare of the society that it operates in, it should not equate to throwing money at someone’s face and being recognised for it. The rise of globalisation and internet culture have given birth to the age of the modern consumer who doesn’t just want the product but the essence of what it represents. Tough crowd.
Therefore, it is no longer enough to get your brand name out there – it has to stick in one way or another.
Sure, paid advertising may get your name out there, but that’s like eating a tofu burger. Where’s the meat? CSR is where the real ‘meat’ is and companies are catching on by spending billions on CSR initiatives globally.
Here is why.
Good CSR that aligns the social cause of its brand and consumers creates a personal touch to the brand that establishes a form of customer loyalty that goes beyond just products and services.
A good track record allows room for mistakes (not that you should need it but sometimes, s**t happens). Consumers are more likely to attribute small oversights as uncharacteristic and are more forgiving about them.
Studies show that 45% of consumers demonstrate a willingness to spend more on brands that are more socially responsible. The power of positive word-of-mouth, especially since it is unpaid, makes everything good about your brand convincing, which sticks like every first impression does.
An example is IKEA, the Yoda of CSR.
Since the 2000s, IKEA has worked with organisations like UNICEF to bring support to children worldwide and make the world a greener place, literally. In UK alone, IKEA has planted more than 1 million trees and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
What is their secret?
Finding a Cause that suits the Brand
In 2014, IKEA committed 1.3 million to help farmers worldwide to produce cotton using less chemicals and water as part of increasing environmental sustainability. Their company vision is “to create better everyday life for the many people”. Connected the dots yet?
Committing to it long-term
IKEA organises social campaigns annually. But what sets their efforts to stone is really the integration of CSR into their operations. They have become 50% more operationally sustainable and aim to be 100% so by 2020. Now, when we look at yellow and blue, all we see is green.
Involving your employees
IKEA encourages their employees to join their volunteer campaigns. By personally engaging in these causes, employees can get a bigger picture of what their work contributes to in the grand scheme of things.
Getting your word out there
Seeing is believing, but nobody likes a show off.
It is important to let your CSR efforts be known. Put it on your social media, websites, but always do it with a pinch of salt, #humblebrag. IKEA plays it down low when it comes to CSR publicity, but a surveyed 94.6% of consumers still have favourable opinions of them. In short, actions speak louder than words.
But I’m just an SME….
Lack of resources? No problem.
It might seem like there is no way you can match up to the efforts of the big guys like Starbucks and Coca-Cola who dedicate teams to monitor their CSR programs while you only have ‘Bob’ from marketing to get your CSR efforts rolling.
But CSR is all about being real and sincere at what you stand for.
Despite being small fish in a shark tank, boutique PR agency Right Hook has organised PR campaigns for brands such as Ananda Marga Society and Association for People with Special Needs (APSN) pro-bono as part of our CSR efforts to give back to the community. The Social Fairground held last year with APSN was a flea market that brought different communities together to get down and active with different sports and activities to promote the inclusion of the disabled and raise funds for APSN.
If you are going to put in the hard work, you might as well believe in it. More than anything, there is a need to be real and genuine in your CSR efforts so it stands apart from a shameless publicity stunt. Besides, what goes around comes back around.
Good karma boomerangs back a long way!