Corporate Social Responsibility is taking over the world of branding at a fast-moving phase. It is becoming a way of brands to differentiate themselves and to attract and sustain consumers. Global brands are often central to competitive strategy because they serve as profit platforms that differentiate even commodity-like products and services. Brands work by ensuring customers of quality, consistency, and security. Such guarantees create repeat customers and provide producers with potentially higher margins. This blog post is there to give you examples of how brands have used this new philosophy into a strength in terms of brand loyalty and how you can use corporate social responsibility to build brand loyalty. What are the advantages for the company when using corporate social responsibility and how do you incorporate it?
Corporate social responsibility creates a landing place in the minds of the target consumers. Due to global competition, increase in media clutter, less differentiation in brand companies are using different tools to increase the value of intangible assets. Corporate social responsibility not only creates the brand awareness among the consumers but also leads to a positive brand image in the minds of the potential consumers. Brands must be inspirational in a socially responsible way to its stakeholders. To achieve the same corporate social responsibility has become more common business practices. Now a days companies are strategically using corporate social responsibility as a marketing tool.
”If you can shift your thinking away from merely selling and into building trust instead, even if it costs you a few bucks in profit, you’ll begin to see opportunities you never imagined once you understand what it means to ‘wow’ that customer by giving them more than they expected!” – Chris Zane, Business Owner and Author.
Company benefits of imposing Corporate Social Responsibility
There are so many benefits attached to implementing a corporate social responsibility strategy. It is obvious that communities and the environment will benefit from your efforts of guiding a more efficient, sustainable and caring company. But those are covering the second part of the term corporate social responsibility. So what about the part that involves the corporation? These benefits are benefits that business leaders are often less aware of, but corporate social responsibility has major benefits for the corporation itself! In the video, the concept and benefits of corporate social responsibility is briefly explained. Besides, we will briefly discuss two the main benefits.
Increased Brand Loyalty
Corporate social responsibility is regarded as a good strategic marketing tool and it has significant influence on consumers’ behaviours. One scientific research, done by Kin Keung Lai, Professor in the City University of Hong Kong, argues that it creates and enhances brand loyalty since corporate social responsibility is able to influence consumer behaviour.
But how d0 we know that this is actually true? Well, to start with, a 2014 study titled The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility examined more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries worldwide, to better understand the impact of corporate social responsibility on behavior.They sought to understand the impact of corporate social responsibility on the actions of consumers. As they point out, most people will say they care about the environment or world hunger — but are they making day-to-day decisions based on the values or organizations. Here is what they found:
- 67% prefer to work for socially responsible companies
- 55% will pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact
- 52% made at least one purchase in the past six months from one or more socially responsible companies
- 52% check product packaging to ensure sustainable impact
- 49% volunteer and/or donate to organizations engaged in social and environmental programs
Philip Kotler and Hermawan Kartajaya describe the new role of corporate social responsibility in marketing and brand engagement in their new book ”Marketing 3.0”, in which they reveal the evolution from product-based marketing to a more consumer-based to values-based related marketing, demonstrating how to incorporate the new ‘thinking’ into a brand’s identity. They see companies shifting towards humanistic approaches in which they balance corporate social responsibility with profitability. Which should lead to increased financial performance as well!
We can also easily argue here that if brand loyalty increases, return on investments and in general financial situations must improve and increase as well. Thus enhancing the company benefits for imposing corporate social responsibility.
”We know that the profitable growth of our company depends on the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our communities across the world. And we know it is in our best interests to contribute to the sustainability of those communities” – Travis Engen, CEO, Alcan
For instance, if a retailer is able to improve consumers’ perception of its fair treatment of employees by one point on a five-point scale, the consequent increase in share of wallet is approximately 1.7 percentage points. The gain from a similar improvement in local sourcing is even more pronounced at more than 2 percentage points. These numbers appear small, but they represent a sales lift of 10% to 15% for the average retailer in our study.
Besides, if a retailer chose to leverage its improved CSR perception into higher prices rather than higher share of wallet, the calculations show that a one-unit increase in employee fairness perceptions translates to a price premium of about 12%, and a similar increase in local product sourcing translates to a price premium of about 16%, says Kusum Ailawadi, Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College and Jackie Luan, assistant professor of business administration at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College.
How to design, implement and communicate your own social responsibility strategy?
Oke, great news right…! But how can you translate your ideas of corporate social responsibility into reality? How can you incorporate social responsibility and communicate it towards our customers?
”Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” – Henry David Thoreau
The focus is on determining how your brand can effectively create shared value by marrying the appropriate social cause and consumer segments.Here is a quick guide including several key ingredients outlined in the Nielsen study in implementing a successful corporate social responsibility program:
- Be clear, actionable and global in communicating the vision and values of the organization.
- As with any communications strategy, make sure the message, tone, and look and feel of all communications are consistent and align with the organization’s core values.
- Establish key performance indicators and measure the success of the corporate social responsibility efforts.
- Make sure you write about your efforts and be transparent. Create reports in the end of the year which show your improvements and results.
”A successful CSR strategy is one that is shared, nurtured and communicated consistently to all stakeholders and shareholders.” – Phillip Kotler
Of course, I also recommend you to take a look at best practices in business world of today. There have been many companies that have gone through the struggles of designing, implementing and communicating their corporate social responsibility already, look at shared success indicators of their strategies and draw your own conclusion. Below I’ll give you some examples of how companies have improved their business by implementing corporate social responsibility and increased their reputation.
As described before and as many of you know, there are already a lot of companies fully engaged in the concept of corporate social responsibility and it would be foolish not to learn from them, before designing and implementing your own.
Since this post argues about how corporate social responsibility can enhance brand loyalty, it is interesting to take a look at the top 10 Most Reputable Companies in the World of 2015, marked by the Reputation Institute. Who have measured the of the 100 most highly regarded companies across 15 countries by analyzing more than 61,000 interviews with consumers. It highlights consumer perspective on what drives trust and support and how the 100 companies are living up to their expectations.
The top 3 of 2015 consists of the BMW group, Google and Daimler. Not surprisingly these companies are some of the most successful in their market category. Thus, again representing a clear correlation between corporate social responsibility, brand loyalty and an increased reputation. According to the Reputation Institute’s website “Firms with better corporate social responsibility reputation have a much higher ability to foster desired supportive behaviors among consumers, including buying their products, recommending their company, or trusting the company to do the right thing when faced with difficulties or disruptions.”