When a company stands for a cause or issue it is passionate about it has the power to engage us on a deeper level. It also creates positive media coverage, builds brand positioning and brand loyalty, increases employee engagement, job satisfaction and reduces turnover.
Standing for something and talking about it also helps stimulate sales for your products. Recent research findings from Cone Communications (2015 Cone Communications /Ebiquity Global CSR Study) have found that 95% of consumers would switch brands to one that supported a good cause if price and quality were similar.
While research by Havas / Meaningful Brands Study found that 59% of Australians chose one brand over the other in the past year based on their social responsibility. While 58% of Australians are more likely to be loyal to brands that support a social issue.
While the mounting stats are unanimous – doing good is good for business. Its obvious that supporting a good cause has many positive benefits but how can brands find, support and promote the right cause in the right way so its not just seen as a ‘fluffy’ PR exercise?
The first step to overcome any skeptism similar to ‘greenwashing’ is for brands to ensure they are supporting causes that are a good strategic fit and match the brand’s business goals and strategy. Ideally it would also be good if senior management could get involved and support the cause in a visible way.
Just think Blake Mycoskie of TOMS, standing up for impoverished kids without shoes. Daniel Flynn of Thankyou, standing up for the millions who don’t have access to safe drinking water. Anita Roddick of The Body Shop, who led the conscious-business movement in the 1970’s and many others who have become successful business leaders and are changing the world.
The trend for standing out and standing for something just seems to be growing. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer 77% of Australians believe business leaders must lead to solve social problems. While 8 out of 10 Australians believe the CEO should personally be visible in discussing societal issues.
To be seen as more genuine it is also important for brands to share and be seen as sharing their journey and showing that they aren’t perfect but are trying. The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer also found that 65% of Australians would like brands to share their obstacles and how they have overcome them. All this is what helps build trust and avoids any ‘greenwashing’ type claims.
Another way for brands to come across more authentic is to support a key cause that is well aligned to the brand over a long period of time. It is also important that the brand supports the cause in as many of the six cause related initiatives as possible, like the six CSR initiatives below:
- Corporate Sponsorships:
This involves supporting a social issues through promotional sponsorships to increase awareness and concern about a social cause.
- Cause-related Marketing:
This involves donating a percentage of revenues to a specific cause based on product sales. Dell offers 10 percent off selected new products when up to three used products are recycling online.
- Corporate Social Marketing:
This is where a company supports a behavior change campaign and raises awareness for an issue they care about. For example nappy brand Pampers has partnered with the SIDS Foundation to encourage parents to put babies on their backs to sleep, which is a very relevant issues related to their product.
- Corporate Philanthropy:
This involves making a direct contribution to a charity, most often in the form of a cash grant, donation and/or in-kind service. The brand can also participate in a charity’s workplace giving program like JB Hi-Fi offering staff a workplace giving program to The Smith Family.
- Community Volunteering:
This is when companies support and encourages employees to volunteer their time to support local community causes. For example, Dell employees around the globe participate in ‘Global Community Involvement Week’ each September with park clean ups.
- Socially Responsible Business Practices:
This involves a company adopting business practices that are socially and environmentally conscious. For example this could be Cadbury chocolates becoming fairtrade certified so farmers in developing countries get paid a fair amount for their cocoa.