It’s a basic human need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s why sports teams sell out stadiums. Why churches are filled. And why some businesses succeed in today’s economy and others don’t. Three words: Corporate Social Responsibility.
According to a 2013 report released by PR and marketing agency Cone Communications corporate social responsibility, CSR for short, is increasingly important to consumers across the globe in terms of brand loyalty. Today companies are expected to participate in (if not drive) solutions to the most pressing of social problems. In fact, 91% of consumers surveyed reported being likely to switch brands if that brand compares in price and quality while also supporting good causes.
That’s huge when it comes to brand positioning.
GenXers and Millennials report that they give their loyalty to brands that give back. They want brands to support causes they care about. Businesses that don’t practice CSR risk losing customers, as nine of ten consumers report they would boycott a product if irresponsible corporate behavior were to become widely known. And with social media as it is, you can be certain bad news will spread like wildfire.
The thing all businesses need to keep in mind during this season of giving is that people want to support good causes that make them feel like they’re making a difference. Make sure your business helps them do this. The urge to leave a legacy runs deep in all of us, businesses that feed that urge with sincere efforts at CSR are poised to succeed, catering to the everyday need for ordinary people to feel like we contribute to the world.
What we choose (or do not choose) to buy does that.
Case in point, TOMS Shoes. For those who haven’t heart of these shoes, the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you buy at regular price. TOMS still comfortably profits, but the people buying the shoes know they’re doing something good to help the less fortunate. That feeling is reinforced each time they put on the distinctive looking shoes. My daughter wears hers with pride, and I’ve seen, first hand, the reactions she gets from others. All good.
So how does a business get better in terms of corporate social responsibility. To begin, CSR is not something you “put on” it is a core business principle that everyone in your company adheres to. Something you do every single day.
There are some ideas to get you started:
- Find out what issues matter most to your customers, and align your brand with those causes.
- Give back and talk about it using personal stories, not awards or commendations.
- Look for simple ways to make an impact — consumers care more about the impact of an action than the dollars spent.
- Make your call to action align with customer values, appeal to their needs, including the need to be generous.
Corporate social responsibility has just as many benefits for the business as it does for society as a whole. A sort of win-win, for real. Beyond a more loyal base for a brand and the accompanying profits, many businesses also notice they have happier, more loyal and better quality employees as part of the team. Everybody does win.