By Kailynn Bowling, co-founder of ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.
Ten years ago, brands could get by without making a statement. But disease, social injustice, economic collapse and war are weighing heavily on your shoppers’ minds right now. While the world is never going to be a perfect place, it’s clear that shoppers expect businesses to do more than just provide products and services.
In other words, great service and solid products are the bare minimum; today, your brand needs to stand for something, and that means putting your money where your mouth is. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a hot topic, both for big enterprises and small businesses. And if you think corporate responsibility is just lip service, think again. CSR has a tremendous impact on how the public perceives you, as well as your customers’ shopping habits.
What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility is how a company considers its impact on the environment, culture and society. Basically, it’s acknowledging that your business has an effect on the world, and it should be a better corporate citizen because of that.
This isn’t just about social issues, either. CSR includes:
• Environmental protection
• Worker treatment
• Corporate governance
• Corporate ethics
We aren’t talking about doing what’s legal—that’s the bare minimum. With CSR, brands actively fight against injustice with practices that make the world a better place.
The Impact Of Corporate Responsibility On Consumer Buying Decisions
Corporate responsibility is the right thing to do in 2022, but it has a tremendous impact on how customers interact with your brand, products and employees, too.
1. Shoppers seek out eco-friendly products.
Did you know that shoppers are four to six times more likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies? Since Millennial and Gen Z shoppers prioritize environmental activism, you can bet that they’re going to shop with these values in mind. They definitely don’t want to buy from a business that hurts the environment. It’s the reason why brands like Sephora are taking environmental action so seriously.
To stand out, your brand needs to:
• Minimize single-use or plastic packaging
• Use sustainable materials
• Reduce its energy consumption
The good news is that if you take your commitment seriously, you’ll enjoy the “halo effect.” This means that the public will perceive you positively even if they’ve never tried your products before.
By the way, if you’re looking for investors, your environmental footprint could have an impact on financing, with 73% of investors factoring a brand’s social and environmental efforts into their investing decisions.
2. Shoppers will boycott irresponsible businesses.
Perhaps this comes as no surprise, but according to one study, 76% of consumers wouldn’t do business with a company that opposes their views, and 25% of consumers have a zero-tolerance policy for unethical behavior.
If you aren’t investing in CSR, there’s a chance consumers will turn on your brand. For example, if you’re a small business that sources products from manufacturers that don’t pay a living wage, you could lose support from loyal customers. It isn’t technically “your fault,” but since your money (and your customers’ money) is supporting unfair practices, your business will be the one to pay the consequences.
Because consumers care about CSR, it needs to be a priority for your brand. You don’t need a million-dollar giveback initiative to do this either. You can run a more responsible business by:
• Partnering with charities
• Paying employees fair wages
• Offering full financial transparency
3. Shoppers amplify CSR messaging.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom! If you take CSR seriously, your shoppers will do a lot of promotion for you. According to a 2015 study, 80% of consumers would tell friends and family about a brand’s CSR efforts. So if you want shoppers to sing your praises on social media, CSR is a no-brainer.
If you don’t have the time to promote your biz on social media, your CSR efforts can do a lot of work for you. In an age where our social media feeds are full of bad news, your shoppers will be thrilled to share something good happening in the world—and it just might lead to more sales, too!
The Bottom Line
Corporate responsibility isn’t just a trend; it’s a necessity. Shoppers are hyper-conscious of how their spending habits affect the world, which means your brand needs to take CSR seriously. The product space is competitive enough already, so rethink how your business affects the environment, society and your workers. With the right approach, taking responsibility for your practices can actually improve your bottom line!