The annual corporate social responsibility study (CSR) written by Cone Communications and Echo Global has recently been published and is available here :
The study explains that CSR is no longer an option – it is a must-do. It is exploring the relationship between companies, consumers and cause, and also recommends ways that companies can engage with customers to foster loyal brands.
This report establishes the issues which seem to be the most important for consumers today : economic development of course, but also environment, human rights and poverty/hunger.
But how can companies positively behave towards their environment and convince their consumers? This report gives some answers, ie. changing and improving their internal process (ex : sourcing materials more responsibly), or developing new products or services which will be more respectful towards the environment for instance.
CSR has become key for companies as it is seen now as a selection criteria for consumers when they have to choose among a long list of similar products or services. Indeed, “nearly all consumers say that when companies engage in CSR, they have a more positive image of the company (96%), would be more likely to trust that company (94%) and would be more loyal to that company (93%).” This can be explained by the fact that consumers feel more responsible and feel they have a role to play especially through their purchases.
Even if the previous figures show that a company which engages in CSR will have a better image and will have more chances to win their customers loyalty, their confidence in the impact companies have on social and environmental issues is different according to the market. It is higher for example in China (30%) or India (37%) but lower in France (12%) or in the UK (9%).
Finally the report gives more details about communication. Indeed, nearly all consumers want to know more about CSR in companies. How ? Traditional channels are the most used ways to communicate about its CSR activities, even if social media is growing up and is now an excellent means to share easily and faster a lot of information (his opinion about a product, a company, etc.). But one of the most important element to remember concerning CSR and communication is that customers seem to have high expectations on CSR, but are also very forgiving as long as you are honest concerning your efforts.
What we can conclude is that CSR needs to be embedded in the whole business – from treating employees to keeping sustainable supply chains. Also, it can build positive brand recognition, deep loyalty and trust, but it’s important to communicate on the good and the bad when it comes to CSR.