What Does CSR Mean in Marketing?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a marketing strategy that companies use to meet the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders while simultaneously balancing social and environmental concerns under the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNICO).
CSR also affects consumer behavior and attitude toward a corporation, suggesting that implementing CSR marketing efforts make consumers more inclined to interact positively with a company.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
In marketing, companies can engage in four general corporate social responsibility efforts: environmental, ethical, philanthropic, and economic. As a CSR tactic, addressing environmental concerns means initiating environmentally responsible practices like reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
At the same time, ethical responsibility is when a company begins altruistic marketing efforts like increasing the minimum wage or switching to a socially and environmentally ethical supplier. Philanthropic CSR marketing efforts are initiated to support a cause that will benefit society. For example, a company will donate a percentage of sales to a community cause.
When a company engages in CSR marking, economic responsibility happens concurrently. For example, when a company participates in philanthropic Corporate Social Responsibility, it shows less concern for making money and more concern for bettering society as a result.
How Social Responsibility in Marketing Works?
When corporations engage in corporate social responsibility efforts, there are three actions to choose from corrective, compensating, and cultivating. According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), corrective CSR actions address social and environmental harm and make business operation changes in response.
Compensation is when a company addresses social and environmental harm but doesn’t change its business operations. Lastly, cultivating is when a company engages in philanthropic marketing without addressing social and environmental concerns.
Is CSR Considered Marketing?
Yes, CSR is a powerful marketing strategy that goes beyond the basic definition of marketing, i.e., selling and promoting products or services. However, a successful CSR strategy requires traditional marketing strategies if a company wants to reap the benefits.
Since corporate social responsibility efforts are marketing strategies, they can result in positive or negative impacts on a company’s reputation, consumers, investors, brand loyalty, sales, profits, and business operations.
So, in a way, the two intertwine, with CSR as the marketing strategy and a strong marketing team to make the process public.
The Role of CSR in Marketing and Branding
As mentioned above, marketing is key to companies promoting their CSR work. So, when a company engages in corporate social responsibility efforts and promotes its plan, it shows its unique inclinations towards ethical and socially responsible practices, which is extremely valuable to a company’s consumers, stakeholders, shareholders, and employees.
CSR Marketing Examples
To understand the CSR efforts, let’s first look at a couple of reputable and positively regarded companies that have used it in their business practices.
Lego became a socially responsible company after its commitment to addressing environmental concerns. The company accomplished this by pledging to reduce its Co2 emissions, making them a partner of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Climate Savers program.
Lego’s strategy represents the corrective CSR initiative since the company addressed and changed its environmental impact. For example, Lego completely altered its business operations by investing $1 billion in offshore wind farms and sustainable materials to improve the energy and material needed to make its bricks.
2. Ben and Jerry’s
Ben and Jerry’s became business leaders as a socially responsible company through philanthropic CSR efforts to benefit society. The company created a national grant program to award grassroots organizations in local communities, prioritizing organizations led by communities of color to fight oppression and promote a more equitable society for future generations.
While its efforts may appear as a cultivating action for CSR, it became a B Corporation, meaning it demonstrated high social and environmental performance, a legal commitment to accountability, and transparency of its business operations.
How Corporate Social Responsibility Benefits Businesses
CSR marketing can positively impact corporate identity since ethical, society benefiting activities and corporate accountability changes consumers' and stakeholders’ subjective views.
A positive corporate identity is a valuable asset for companies and certainly a primary goal. With socially responsible efforts, a company becomes a transparent, sustainable, reliable, and honest entity in the eyes of its consumers.
Another benefit of CSR strategies is increasing customer, partner, and employee trust. When consumers perceive a company positively, they feel more inclined to interact with the company, increasing profits and sales.
In addition, when a company’s CSR efforts create trustworthy relationships with business partners, both sides gain benefits from positive interactions. Lastly, CSR efforts towards employee trust like transparency, high morals, and accountability increase worker efficiency and care and lead to a strong line of future employees.
Corporate Social Responsibility Marketing Strategies
CSR initiatives are an essential marketing strategy for companies to achieve positive relations and opinions from customers, shareholders, stakeholders, employees, and partners. According to the AMA, one crucial factor to consider with CSR marketing is that the effect of corrective and compensating strategies increases sales while cultivating leads to decreased sales.
However, the effect of a slight decrease in sales from the cultivating route happens when companies fail to deal with their own social and environmental issues before initiating philanthropic engagements.
Some corporate social responsibility strategies include:
Use Channels to Show Off Your Brand and Give Updates on CSR Work
Since companies need to spread their CSR strategies to the public, efficient communication of their CSR work is a valuable and straightforward strategy.
Give Your Brand a Boost with CSR
When companies show actionable and meaningful initiatives towards social and environmental concerns for the betterment of society, it builds a positive company reputation and brand identity.
Align HR and Marketing Teams on CSR Goals
An excellent strategy for successful CSR marketing is to have Human Resource and Marketing Teams working together because many CSR marketing strategies improve employee diversity and equity. So, together these two units can promote the plan and examine the overall progress of the marketing strategy.