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CSR and Sales

By Amanda | 05-03-2019

How modern businesses need to be seen as proactively contributing to the community, the country and the planet

The customers buying process has changed over the past twenty years. Considerations such as price, quality, level of service, packaging and branding all still apply, but the ethical and altruistic nature of a business is now more important than ever to secure sales.

In the past influencing factors such as corporate hospitality (alcohol fuelled long lunches and trips to the races or golf days) and branded gifts were handed out by the truckload in a bid to sway business decisions and keep customers onside.

But times have changed.

The ethical expectations on companies from its various stakeholders have become more complex and demanding.

Critically, millennium consumers, both in the general public and in business, have become more altruistic. Now customers demand that a business delivers exceptional products and services, but also that it contributes to the community, is seen as transparent, takes care of their workforce and illustrates an active role in addressing universal issues. Businesses have to show how responsible they are and how much of a positive impact they have on the environment and the planet if they want to even be in the race.

Companies are therefore engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in response to the way in which customers make purchasing decisions and not just as a strategic nod to the corporate conscience. The modern businessrecognises that CSR helps them to identify their brand purpose and create a personality that their customers can connect with on a deeper level. But their CSR strategy must be authentic, aligned with their company values or purpose and integrated into their business model.

According to one study by the “Reputation Institute”, 42% of how a person feels about a company is based on their knowledge of that firm’s CSR definition. Research shows that more customers base their decisions on corporate social responsibility than ever before. Customers will switch to buying from a brand that supports a good cause and on the flip side; will boycott a brand that displays irresponsible or unethical practices.

Developments in information technology and communication and platforms such as those on social media has made information globally accessible and publicly displayed which emphasises transparency in all business operations. If two brands are offering similar products and qualities, it then becomes a question of how one differentiates from the other and how one is perceived as better than the other.  

Aligning your brand to sustainability, community support, environmental awareness and other positive messages will result in greater loyalty amongst your potential and existing customers. Shouting about your CSR activity will give you the edge when pitched against competitors who are not seen to have a corporate conscience.

CSR initiatives may include;

Environmental campaigns: These are the policies and processes that you take as a business to reduce your carbon footprint, limiting your negative impact on the world.

Employee welfare: All businesses are expected to treat their employees ethically and fairly. The more you show you care about your workers, the more your community and potential customers will respect you.

Philanthropic activity: Donating to local charities and supporting local community initiatives is a way to show your customers that you care about what matters to them.

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