Why Your Social Responsibility Strategy Should Be Customer Centric

Simply putting out a coin bin for donations will no longer cut it. Times are changing as are consumer expectations and your corporate responsibility strategy should change with it. 

Corporate social responsibility is not a new concept in the world of retail, however, it is not static and in 2017 it will be more important than ever for brands to embrace a customer centric approach.

An article by Martin Newman for Retail Week suggests that CSR strategy in retail should engage the customer. Putting the customer first is a key requirement to be successful in retail,” said Newman in the article. To support customers being socially responsible, a brand needs to act strategically rather than run a once-a-year campaign with branded products and a hashtag.”

To support customers being socially responsible, a brand needs to act strategically rather than run a once-a-year campaign with branded products and a hashtag.”

The millennial generation with its significant influence and spending power is shaping the way that brands send messages, forcing businesses to change or suffer the consequences. Emphasis on social responsibility is increasingly important due to the role it plays in Millennial buying habits. According to a recent study, 87% of Millennials are more willing to purchase products with a social or environmental benefit, and 91% don’t hesitate to switch brands in favor of one associated with a cause. 

Authenticity matters

Brands must understand the difference between rallying behind a cause and standing for a purpose. It cannot be simply a marketing ploy – Millennials can see right through that. Brands must truly believe in the cause they choose to support. 

One of the best ways to be authentic is to get your employees involved in the strategy and execution. According to a recent Deloitte study, 63% of Millennials donate to charity, and likewise want their employer to have a sense of purpose beyond profit.

Added bonus: Socially responsible brands often have a higher rate of employee loyalty and retention.

Customer involvement is key

Retail is constantly transforming; in recent years, we’ve seen business models shift toward both customer centricity and social responsibility. Stats have revealed a growing population of socially conscious customers, but also higher customer expectations in general. It’s no longer about the purchase or the pricing - the customer is at the core of the strategy for successful retailers.

The next step? You guessed it. Combine both concepts to appeal to today’s consumer. Involve and engage your customers in the purpose you stand for or the cause that you choose to support.

A purchase that goes further

Initiatives such as tentree apparel’s 10 trees planted per item purchased include the customer while also supporting their cause. They also engage the customer by selling the product with a tag that customers can use to register their trees planted around the world.

When customers purchase a pair of glasses from Warby Parker their Buy a pair, give a pair’ program contributes to sourcing glasses, but also to training men and women in developing countries to give basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices.

Both retailers exemplify how brands can authentically support the cause they believe in while also appealing to and including their socially concious customers.

Book a tour of our NRF booth to learn more about how tentree maintains their socially responsible and authentic brand while meeting the digital expectations their e-commerce customers are familiar with.

Feature Photo: Liam James / liamjamesphoto.com