The Cult of CSR – Marketing Money Maker or Social Extortion?

By David Murdico

What likely began as a feel-good thing for companies to do with some extra scratch laying around, and a sound tax dodge, corporate social responsibility has turned into a marketing ploy at best – a socially mandated obligation at worst.

TOMS Shoes is one of the more visible CSR plays in the social media age. The premise was simple. Buy a pair of shoes, and we give a pair to somebody that can’t afford a pair.

Soon, TOMS became a status symbol and fashion craze of a different kind.

We saw pictures of TOM, aka Blake Mycoskie, fitting little kids sitting in mud.

So we all bought TOMS.

While affluent Ralph Lauren and Nautica wearers’ feet told everyone they were en-route to compete in rich and fancy polo matches and boating events, your feet told everyone that you just bought a pair of shoes for a little kid… sitting in mud.

You and TOMS were on the moral high ground and that felt good, right?

It definitely wasn’t about TOMS making a profit. It was about helping barefoot people.

More importantly, it definitely was about TOMS making a profit – a marketing gimmick akin to buy one get to free… and save the world

They were smart. They saw the CSR tide and caught the wave.

Not just shoes, but chicken too!

Last year Chicken mogul Perdue uncaged its “2016 and Beyond: Next Generation of Perdue Commitments to Animal Care,” in which it ensures chickens are raised in settings where they are more comfortable, provides better care for baby chicks, and doubles its chickens’ activity level…

…and then they kill and shrink wrap them.

So, how much does Perdue have to spend to make chickens happy so we feel better about eating chickens? Perdue! If you really cared about chickens, you’d open a chicken zoo and let people go on tours to pet chickens.

Know why that won’t work? Because nobody cares about chickens. They’re annoying, not very cuddly and they wake you up at dawn.

Hey! I’m opening a chicken company where my chickens eat fillet mignon, play organized sports in the yard and get daily chicken feet massages.

Buy my chicken.

According to a 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study:

  • 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental concerns.
  • 84% say they seek out responsible products whenever possible
  • 81% of Consumers Say They Will Make Personal Sacrifices to Address Social, Environmental Issues

According to Matt Walker, writing on AdWeek, “A large, cross-generational majority of consumers expect companies to display a level of corporate social responsibility.”

Let’s cut through that potential BS. Consumers may proclaim they’re CSR expectations in polls, in surveys, under pressure at cocktail parties… but it doesn’t mean they’re buying that way. They’re just too ashamed and peer – pressured to admit it.

Paint me cynical, but most people seem to buy with their wallets, or do they?

They weight value against price, compare, and when faced with a choice between lunch for there children versus a stranger in Venezuela, that may or may Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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