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How Social Issues and the Environment Are Affecting the Bottom Line

Social and environmental issues have come front and center in the corporate world as businesses realize consumers have expectations for responsible behavior in addition to reasonable cost.

It is a trend that affects how businesses operate. For example, an Accenture article notes that consumers are increasingly aware of how their purchases affect other people and natural resources. The growing demand for products and services that are "personally meaningful and socially and environmentally beneficial" is having businesses looking beyond profit margins.

How does corporate social responsibility influence consumer perception of brands and the products they choose to buy? Results from a 2019 Clutch survey say a lot about how this trend affects a business's bottom line.

For example, 75% of consumers said they would likely buy a product from a company that supports an issue they're concerned about.

Consumers increasingly view their buying decisions as an extension of their social values, so they are likely to support companies that share their beliefs, Clutch says. And, they can and will use their spending to influence how businesses operate.

Survey Findings

Other findings of the Clutch survey include:

  • 71% of customers listed environmentally friendly business practices as important, followed by social responsibility and giving back to the local community (both at 68%), and price (44%).
  • 71% feel businesses should take a stand on social issues.
  • 29% of customers said that businesses support social issues to boost their bottom line, and 28% said they do it to show care.
  • 59% said they would likely quit buying from a company that supports an issue they disagree with.

Consumers Pay Attention With Their Pocketbook

Clutch also cited several consumers who said they were willing to put their money where their mouth is. For example, one woman updated her beauty regimen with cruelty-free brands and quit buying from companies that use animal testing.

But price does figure into the equation. A respondent said he would be willing to pay $5 more for a carbon neutral footprint, but "not $1,000 more."

Another consumer spoke of TOMS shoes with its "buy a pair, give a pair" business model, saying that she could buy quality shoes cheaper, but she would rather do business with a company whose beliefs align with her own.

Taking Corporate Social Responsibility Seriously

Many businesses are finding financial benefits while building trust with consumers, according to an article in DMI Daily Digest. They listed examples of major brands that are taking corporate social responsibility seriously:

  • Johnson & Johnson has focused on reducing its environmental impact on the planet for three decades. The company leverages wind power and seeks to meet 35% of its energy needs from renewable resources.
  • Ford plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by using its EcoBoost engine to increase fuel efficiency in its fleet and by introducing 40 different electric and hybrid vehicles by 2022.
  • For a different social perspective, look no further than Netflix and Spotify. Both focus on employees and their families. Netflix offers 52 weeks of paid parental leave either the first year of the child's life or any other time it is needed. Spotify offers a similar program.
  • Pfizer drives global initiatives to raise awareness for non-infectious diseases. It also provides healthcare for impoverished women and children. For example, it reduced the price of Prevnar 13 vaccines for pneumonia and ear and blood infections for those in need and for those in refugee and emergency situations.

As the corporate world responds to social and environmental responsibility, it will seek business professionals trained to navigate the new dynamic. Pittsburg State University's online MBA program includes a course on Business, Government and Society that covers methods to integrate social responsiveness and public policy analysis into strategic decision-making. This course equips students with the concepts and tools necessary to succeed in the new era.

Learn more about Pittsburg State University's online MBA program.


Sources:

Accenture: Fjord Trends 2020

Clutch: How Corporate Social Responsibility Influences Buying Decisions

Digital Marketing Institute: 16 Brands Doing Corporate Social Responsibility Successfully


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