Sustainability and Social Responsibility

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Sustainability and Social Responsibility

According to Sheila McLean, president of Markstein, an integrated communications agency, consumers are looking for brands "to show them and not just tell them what they're doing, and brands need to demonstrate the real impact of their initiatives over time."

Transparency is the Key

  • Consumers want to hear about commitments and the results of social initiatives from companies. "More than 8-in-10 (82%) say if a company makes social or environmental commitments, they will hold it responsible for sharing results."
  • "Additionally, consumers are realistic with 91% saying it’s okay if a company is not perfect, as long as it is honest about its efforts."
  • A survey conducted by Cone Communications revealed that more than "65% of Americans say that when a company stands for a social or environmental cause, they will research to confirm if the company's claims are authentic."
  • According to a 2017 Forbes article, consumers want brands "to be open and honest about their efforts," and nearly "81% of millennials expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship."
  • A Business Insider article, published in 2020, highlighted that brands that are more transparent about their social and environmental initiatives benefit more than brands that are not. For instance, Reformation, a sustainable clothing brand, provides all important information about its social and environmental initiatives on its website. However, it also does a lot more to inform its customers, it adds transparency through initiatives like "RefScale, factory tours, and sustainability reports, and it also does awareness programs for educating consumers about the environmental impact of fashion."

Adding More Details

  • "Supply Chain Visibility and Social Responsibility: Investigating Consumers' Behaviors and Motives," a study on consumer behaviors, found that on "average consumers were willing to pay about 2% to 10% more for products presented with accompanying precise CSR information, depending on the type of activity and the industry of the corporation."
  • Additionally, the study also found a strong preference, among at least "70% of consumers, for advertisements with more precise information about corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities than those with vague information if the price did not change."

Multi-Channel Marketing

  • If brands want to gain affinity, loyalty, and credibility among customers, they need to do a lot more than a one-off ad or a touchpoint; they need to utilize multiple channels and be vocal about their initiatives.
  • "79% of respondents from the 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study said that they are more likely to believe a brand's CSR commitments if they share efforts across multiple channels and over time opposed to a PR tactic or stunt." A good example of this is the "Dove's 10+ year Real Beauty Campaign, it shares its core message across traditional and nontraditional media channels alongside true impact programs, such as its Self-Esteem Fund."

Taking a Stand on Social Issues

  • According to a Clutch article, a few decades ago, companies used to follow "a general PR rule-of-thumb which was to avoid voicing opinions on controversial topics and social issues." However, this isn't helping companies anymore since consumers now want companies to speak up on social issues and take a public stand.
  • "71 percent of US consumers say it’s important for organizations to take a stance on social issues and current movements," as per a recent survey conducted by Clutch.
  • "Sprout Social’s 2018 Championing Change in the Age of Social Media report highlighted that nearly 66 percent of consumers call for organizations to take a stance on current issues, with more than half (58 percent) supporting that stance actively spread via social media platforms."

Research Strategy

We were able to provide four detailed consumer insights on the topic, these insights are backed by findings from surveys and research studies. We have used a couple of sources that were published in 2017 and 2018, but we have only included these sources because more recent surveys that were specific to the topic were not available in the public domain.

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