Effect on Customers of Socially Responsible Companies

“A socially responsible company operates marketing activities through the lens of broader concerns of society at large, such as social, legal, ethical, and environmental obligations. These firms allocate equal weight to profit, consumer satisfaction, and social well-being when evaluating business performance,” – Angel Cabrera

Balance sheets are an important aspect of modern commerce because the numbers that populate a balance sheet indicate corporate performance achieved at the end of each calendar quarter. The profit motive is an equally distinctive driver that propels corporate performance and stock market prices. However, socially responsible companies choose to add a third ingredient by taking a holistic view of business operations. This view includes extraneous factors such as the natural environment and human society as important aspects in evaluating the health and performance of a business enterprise. These actions stem from a realisation that businesses do not operate in a vacuum and therefore, must necessarily look beyond pure numbers in assessing the efficacy and scope of business actions. In light of the above, we may note that brands and companies can choose to integrate socially responsible modes of action into their very operational frameworks in a bid to generate wider sensitivity.

We must note that socially responsible companies can and must discharge their duties through a variety of devices. Brands, businesses, and corporates can work to educate their customers and sensitise them to the need to preserve the natural environment. For instance, a paper manufacturer can institute corporate programs that instil eco-friendly practices among its peers and competitors. The firm can lead by example and allot corporate budgetary support to planting trees in a systematic campaign that spans years. We may note that this is a fine instance of socially responsible companies working to repopulate forests and thereby preserving the natural environment. In addition, said manufacturer can encourage customers to adopt a sensible approach to the use of paper because wood and forests are a finite resource. Paper recycling (and the practices and technologies that enable such recycling) can represent one of the major planks of said campaign.

Industrial and commercial waste has emerged as a major problem in modern times. Industrial and commercial activities on an unprecedented scale have been encouraged by the tenets of the free market, but the management and disposal of such waste is not clearly mapped out. Therefore, socially responsible companies would be well advised to focus part of their energies and budgets to combat this scourge of modern times. For instance, a business that deals primarily in plastics and polymers could choose to sensitise its users and customers on the need to safely recycle and dispose of plastics in a bid to save the natural environment. We must note that plastics and polymers are manmade materials that found tremendous market traction decades ago. These materials continue to be widely used but the disposal of these materials poses a serious problem to the planet. Therefore, the said enterprise could educate consumers and customers on the means to safely dispose of (or recycle) plastics and polymers. The campaigns and actions initiated by said company may help to inform customers and public opinion to adopt a responsible attitude to the use of plastic and polymer products. Additionally, socially responsible companies can invest corporate resources and manpower to investigate options and alternative materials that can help customers to reduce the consumption of plastics and polymer materials.

Wildlife and biodiversity faces a greater threat than ever from the ravenous appetites of mankind. In this context, we may note that socially responsible companies can promote wildlife tourism and expeditions that create a minimal or zero impact on the habitats of wildlife. For instance, a tour operator could fashion a campaign that seeks to introduce business customers to fine, authentic experiences in the wild without harming the native environment. The company’s social responsibility could be viewed through the lens of altruism, as also as an active campaign that seeks to focus customers’ attention to the need to preserve the planet. This strategy could be extended in the form of a campaign wherein, the said business operator donates a part of its annual profits to efforts designed to promote the preservation of wildlife. We must note that socially responsible companies should continuously work to refine the modalities of intervention through which they seek to translate their vision into tangible action on the ground.

Customers of socially responsible companies can be encouraged to tap the use of solar power through campaigns that promote the wider use of natural energies. We must note that a number of factors such as economics and market forces must be taken into account, but the overall thrust should spotlight the beneficial uses of solar power and the very real gains that can accrue when solar energy is tapped at scale. For instance, a socially responsible electricity utility could choose to go against the grain of commercial logic by promoting the use of solar power among its customers. Interested customers could be offered a rebate on their power bill when they meet part of their energy requirements through the use of ‘clean energy’. These actions can help the power utility to introduce solar energy into its power generation networks because excess energy generated at customer premises can be sold to the said utility. This instance demonstrates how socially responsible companies can promote positive action and innovation in the service of wider social goals and objectives.

The average modern customer is an informed and networked individual; socially responsible companies can seek to leverage this fact to encourage time and money donations to help achieve the corporate vision of an equitable world. These companies can demonstrate serious intent through their campaigns and document the outcomes for the consumption of all stakeholders. Customers can be encouraged to join such efforts and make a small donation to charities and trusts operated by the company. We may note that this approach is an instance wherein, corporate purpose works to finds fulfilment through the participation of average customers.

Socially responsible companies can increase their sales when they project their ‘green’ credentials in open markets. Public opinion and the general perception of such credentials is usually higher than normal and this can help such companies to achieve positive business outcomes. For instance, campaigns can be crafted to inform customers that fifty cents from every ten customer dollars would be donated to encourage responsible customer practices, such as recycling. This approach can encourage more customers to direct their dollars to the products and services offered by said companies. An interesting (but unintended) effect may ensue when competitors buy into the idea and initiate similar campaigns with a view to garner higher profits.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have analysed some of the effect that can be cast by socially responsible companies. We must note that corporate social responsibility has arrived and many brands and businesses are pursuing such objectives. In the final analysis, we may state that social responsibility is a two-way street and therefore, corporate organisations and consumers should align their goals with an aim to achieve overarching objectives. The fresh infusion of ideas and passionate calls to action can be coupled with corporate resolve and budgetary support to attain wonderful outcomes.

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