Historically, corporate social responsibility has been scarcely associated to brand management, both living in separate worlds. But now, rules have changed, trends have evolved, and also the needs of consumers. This lead us to consider what the new role of big brands will be within the current environment.
It is clear that companies need to position themselves in matters of responsibility and have more presence in the new social paradigm. But in order for it to work, this interference must convey real engagement.
This is clearly shown by the global study of the consulting firm GfK Spain, which indicates that consumers are becoming increasingly demanding: “76% expect brands to acquire a certain level of sustainable commitment”. Sustainability is one of their main concerns of these and, therefore, companies need to respond to this responsibility if they want to continue to be a purchase option. According to this study: “28% of buyers believe they have a moral obligation to be respectful of the environment.” What do companies need to create economic value and contribute to healthy and responsible ecosystems?
We are living a different new era in which brands are more than a product, a label or an image, and face two great goals: establishing and emotional bond with their consumers without losing their business vision and bringing added value to society.
To this effect, their image must be built around true meanings and social values. In this context and in order to join this trend, companies should commit to the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and bond them to their business philosophy.
But of course, not everything goes for responsible initiatives to truly influence the value of the brand. First, they have to be identified by consumers and, secondly, to entice a behavior that motivates them socially. A value that is amplified when these initiatives are perceived as non-profit and move away from pure economic results.
Companies are now full of millennials and will be soon formed by centennials, the youngest workforce. These generations have two main guiding ambitions: technological savviness and all what involves social responsibility. These professionals are the ones who help companies to expand and improve their strategies towards sustainability, leveraging the expertise and now-how of previous generations.
This approach confirms that consumers are more and more conscious and aware about their community, and therefore they look for less individualistic brands. Attitude and originality are assets needed for the engine to run.
Luis Gandiaga, Corporate General Director beon. Worldwide