Corporations becoming more socially responsible in their communities is a new trend that is popping up in window displays around the city. This new trend is hitting corporations at a fast pace; it is no longer about providing consumers with the best product, its about how it was made and who got hurt in the process. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is a new wave of conscious selling and buying, yet nowadays, it seems to be the biggest trend. Consumers control the trends for companies to follow. When they demand a product 5 or 6 companies will compete over the same idea. Having consumers force the big bad corporations to be more conscious about the products they produce is better for everyone involved. What these companies don’t realize is that they are no longer selling a product, but instead, a lifestyle that they too must follow.
CSR and Branding:
CSR is a great plan for huge corporations such as Coca Cola and Walmart that are often in the news because of their stance on ethical buying. Truthfully speaking, consumers are considerably smarter than they were 1 or 2 years ago. You can no longer claim to offer a green product without having someone dispute it if it’s not true. The rise of social media has given consumers a voice. If a company does something inexcusable, they can longer carry all the unanswered complaint letter with an air freight service over to the dump, they simply must speak to their faults. With sharing sites such as Facebook, twitter and YouTube, nothing is hidden from the public, and when addressing your consumers, you must be prepared and focused on the matter at hand. A great example of this is Nestle and the Indonesian Palm oil debacle. 90% of the world’s palm oil exports come from Indonesia and Malaysia, giving Indonesia the crown for highest deforestation rates of 4.4 million acres per year between 2000-2005. Nestle uses palm oil heavily in their chocolate bars, and in 2010, they started getting negative responses on Facebook because of it. It was no easy day at a Toronto bed and breakfast for Nestle, when a Facebook group was created with the primary purpose to shed negative light on the company. In order to take away from the bad publicity Nestle got heavily involved in the community and started to support charities to clear their name. this was a positive strategy but the company was only covering up the bad with some good and that will not hold for long.
The future of CSR is now:
Recently, I went into the store Lush Handmade Cosmetics purely for the scent. I was walking around, smelling and poking the products when I stumbled on a wall sized poster titled “ A Lush Life, we Believe.” I stood there for 10 minutes simply marveling at some of the things the company stood for: ethical buying, fair trade and quality products. At first, I was skeptical, so I called over a sales associate and asked her to explain further. She raved about the company and kept saying “we,” sounding like an extremely enthusiastic exclusive group. I nodded, picked up a copy of their Lush Times and bought my preservative free bubble bar on my way to the Yorkville salon. Even though it’s hotter than a furnace outside, I still could not shake the image of the writings on the wall. I couldn’t help but think, is this the new trend? Lush is a company that has been around for over 20 years, but CSR is not a thing they do on the side, it is their mission statement. With CSR on the rise, is this their time to shine globally? Is this the rise of the new company? Is it the evolution of the big bad corporation?
Corporate social responsibility is slowly evolving and turning into a necessity for a corporation’s survival. Within a year, I suspect it will grow and become part of corporations mission statements and lifestyle choices.