Social Responsibility is More Than Just Being Green
By Mark Johnson President, Loyalty 360 - The Loyalty Marketer's Association | June 26, 2011
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly becoming an integral part of brands' business strategies. Typically, when we think of socially responsible hotels examples of environmental stewardship come to mind. But in today's increasingly competitive business landscape, CSR efforts can - and should - go beyond the typical green initiatives that have become expected practice in the hospitality industry. Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman Public Relations and panelist at the 2009 World Savers Congress hosted by Conde Nast Traveler, summed it up well when he said, "The traveler's expectation is that the company is going to be green. Instead of being the eco-cherry on the sundae, it's in the ice cream."
Guests have come to expect hotels to be environmentally-friendly - be it through water conservation efforts, recycling programs, energy saving initiatives and beyond. In fact, a recent study by Carlson Hotels found that 76% of travelers said that a hotel's degree of environmental friendliness influenced their decision of where to say. Surprising? Not really. But what is eye-opening is that the same study found that some guests are willing to pay a premium to those with a high CSR involvement.
CSR efforts affect consumer purchase decisions
The way brands approach corporate social responsibility has evolved from philanthropy to a true integration into business practices. Once viewed as how you spend the money you make, social responsibility is now more about how you make the money you spend. And it's an increasingly important factor consumers consider when deciding whom to do business with. People want to be associated with companies that are good corporate citizens.
The 2008 Cone/Duke University Behavioral Cause Study, released by Cone and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, validates for the first time that cause-related marketing can significantly drive actual consumer choice. According to the survey:
- 85% of Americans say they have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about
- 84% of women and 75% of men say they consider a company's commitment to social issues when deciding what to buy or where to shop
- 85% feel it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause in their marketing