Corporate Social Responsibility as a Marketing Strategy
As CSR evolves from an activity of Big Business to a periodically assessed requirement, companies have moved towards understanding the scope of how to capitalise on such efforts. At its most basic level, CSR is a way for businesses to self-regulate by taking actions or incorporating processes which help various levels of stakeholders, the society and the government. Over the years, this action has gone through its various changes, from being seen as charity to seeing it as a crucial part of the supply chain process to keep in compliance with various sets of legislations.
As seen in Carrol’s CSR pyramid, companies evolve their CSR strategies based on their current scope of activities and slowly extending their activities with the final aim of being a good Corporate Citizen. Such activities include -
Corporate philanthropy: When a company gives charity, cash, goods or services.
Community volunteering: When a company organizes an event or a service for free. We see this a lot when companies go out in their branded shirts and pick up litter.
Socially-responsible business practices: When a company decides not to use cheap artificial products, instead they use products produced by small farmers as a way to support local small businesses. Ethical practices that businesses take.
Cause Promotions and Activism: when a company provides funds to advocate for a campaign.
Cause Related marketing: Giving money to charity based on product sales
Corporate Social Marketing: When a company provides funds for a change campaign in society.
A case to point is Ben and Jerry's, a company that has for years been very active in environmental and social responsibility. Having stood by the cause of climate change for years, they have showcased this by
eco-friendly methods to produce their ice-cream.
Supported peace efforts and stood against war efforts.
People love the brand because of their CSR. The fact that the product does not contain artificial hormones and supports small farmers by producing healthier products.
As the generations change, Millennials and Gen Z are more invested with companies which commit to helping to make a better world and follow through as part of their corporate strategy. Initiatives by companies are tracked by individuals and media alike for the interest generated. With government regulations following up on major B2B companies and the general public keeping tabs on B2C brands, CSR becomes a powerful tool for companies to broaden their market presence across the board.