In today’s marketplace, being the most affordable is no longer enough to separate you from your competitors. With the ability to freely share and publish what sets a brand apart, paired with the growing awareness of social issues facing society, people are looking to companies and corporations to determine how they fit with their ideals and lifestyles.
This is something that’s emerged over time. But with the proliferation of brands competing on social media in similar spaces, one key measure that consumers are taking into account is whether a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) aligns with their values.
It creates an environment where brands are able to show their customers why people should care about them, but it also creates an environment where everything needs to be genuine. Nothing is worse than trying to bandwagon a real cause for commercial gain (as Pepsi found).
Defining your CSR
To use CSR to connect to consumers, the first thing to do is to take a step back and identify the ways you can be socially responsible to begin with. Taking the consumer out of the equation is essential, because your company should care about the issues you’re solving regardless of whether anyone else does already.
One company that does this incredibly well is Patagonia. They pour profits into causes that work to sustain the natural environments their customers use their equipment in every year. This could also be considered an investment into the long-term success of their operation. Without natural environments available for people to explore, there wouldn’t be any need to purchase their gear. But by taking such a bold stance to the planet’s wellbeing compared to their competition, Patagonia is consistently seen as the choice of people who a) love the outdoors, and b) love the planet.
Ensuring it's not a one-off approach
It’s no surprise or coincidence that this ethos of care for natural environments is built into the DNA of Patagonia’s brand. By aligning their CSR with their brand values, they can guarantee it’s communicated with everything they do. It’s an important consideration for any company looking to connect with customers on a social level because the last thing any company should do is make their responsibility a one-off campaign. For people to genuinely care it needs to be throughout everything you do, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach for startups and SMEs. If sustainable and ethical materials can be implemented in your supply chain, that’s a great start. Or if your products are used by people or groups who could use a hand, volunteering to mentor, coach or simply help out could be an option too.
To build social responsibility into your brand, strategy is the best place to start. By understanding how you can improve your product or customer experience, as well as the wider communities your business touches, it’s possible to build a brand that people are proud to stand behind. The value that comes from brands that do this well has been proven, and you can find out more in one of our previous articles or simply get in touch to discuss yours with us.
Published: 17 Oct 2019