Supercharging CSR

I have genuinely cut social events short so that I can get home in time to catch Planet Earth II.

I think it’s brilliant. For a full hour, nothing can distract me. I have no interest in my Instagram feed, the Whatsapp conversation can wait and if my housemate tries to make any sort of conversation, she will receive a disapproving shake of the head. It’s simply fascinating to learn about the world that we live in and mind blowing that we are actively destroying it as we go about our everyday lives.

According to the Living Planet Report, if we all had the same carbon footprint to that of the average US citizen, we would need 3.9 planet Earths to make the world sustainable. And yes, we don’t all have this carbon footprint at present but we do have a rapidly growing population (expected to reach the 9 billion mark by 2050) and action needs to be taken if we want our home to survive.

I know you know this, but what are you doing about it?

Companies are really beginning to step up. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has been around for years but consumers need more than the occasional donation to a local charity.

With 23% of consumers saying that they consider whether a product has been made from recycled materials before making a purchase, there is a demand for brands to really ingrain ethical practice and environmental awareness into their core values.

Unethical behaviour grabs people’s attention. We’ve learned all about cheap labour, poor working conditions, scandalous levels of food waste and over-packaged and unrecyclable goods and the reason it grabs our attention is because we care!

According to Mintel, 51% of consumers agree that people should boycott companies that act unethically so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing brands do what they can to try and improve.

The food and beverage industry have seen a lot of change. Reducing the amount of food waste is a top concern, with Mintel reporting that 46% of UK consumers would like more information from the government/ council on how they can reduce food waste. This has sparked the set-up of a whole host of new initiatives created to cut down on food waste…

The Too Good to Go app is launching in major cities in the UK where restaurants that have extra food going to waste will sell them for a fraction of their full price rather than throwing them away. And earlier this year, supermarket Asda sold vegetable boxes which contain misshapen vegetables for £3.50, approximately 30% cheaper than their standard value. The examples are endless, but it’s not all about food waste.

More specifically Costa Coffee recently announced their new scheme that allows customers to recycle their takeaway cups in-store. And not just their own cups, but the cups of competitor chains too. As Starbucks trialled entirely recyclable coffee cups in a bid to reduce the amount which are accumulating in landfills, it is a welcomed shift that makes it as easy as possible for consumers to be green and a trend we are likely to see much more of in the future.

So, what does this mean for brands? We can see there is burgeoning support across sectors for better social and environmental practice, meaning brands have potential to leverage some of this support for themselves (and gain favourability) if they follow suit. By communicating their cause and helping consumers make small changes, brands can help themselves at the same time as they help the planet. It’s a win-win!

 

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Carley Fain

Carley has recently joined the Insight team at OMD UK. With a background in marketing and media research, Carley likes to know what makes people tick and understand why they behave and think the way they do.

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