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How to effectively communicate your CSR commitments

Sophie Pastur

Head of Expertise Media & Creative, Insights Division

Kantar

Sophie.Pastur@kantar.com

Anne-Lise Toursel

Head of Expertise Media & Creative, Insights Division

Kantar

Annelise.Toursel@kantar.com

How to effectively communicate your CSR commitments

War, detachment, doubt, immense, anxiety... so many words increasingly expressed by the French (from the most recent Kantar Barometer of French Values) reflect a deeply uncertain, complex and sometimes anxious response to the world in which we all live.

 

A study carried out in 2018 by the Wellcom agency, at the initiative of the Observatoire du sens, reveals that for 58 percent of French people this need for meaning is growing. This quest for meaning in consumption and toward brands is striking among the new generations, who do not hesitate to shake up the status quo inherited from previous decades on the role of brands: 75 percent of Millennials declared in 2016 that brands had so little meaning that they were destined to disappear; 62 percent of us declare that we want to give meaning to our consumption and consume in a more responsible way.

While this idea of responsibility is not new (concerning the environment, sustainable development, and CSR), it has accelerated to mass consciousness with the current world situation and society’s fears about the world’s future. Thus, this quest for a responsible world is a prerogative for brands.

But can brands save the world?

They can at least contribute to this movement. There are two pieces of good news. The first is that consumers have become more aware of the need to address these issues and are demanding this; the movement is also driven by political initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN in 2015.

The second good news is that CSR being recognized as a growth accelerator. Our BrandZ1 database shows that in one year, from 2017 to 2018, in France the growth in value of brands with strong social responsibility was twice as high as that of other brands. Brands with strong social or environmental commitments increased in value by 14 percent; at the same time the value of other brands increased by only seven percent.

 

Tips for effective CSR in this new world

Differentiation

For brands born from a commitment to be responsible, which have benefited from authentic ecological credibility, the challenge is to stand out and to have an ability to differentiate, constantly renewing in line with the evolution of society’s expectations, so that new brands don’t take over their goals.

Created by Anita Roddick in 1976, The Body Shop is a pioneering brand committed to sustainability in the production of its cosmetics. Since it was founded, other brands have rushed into the natural healthy products sector with updated standpoints, starting with the British handmade cosmetics company Lush, launched in 1995.

Women’s empowerment is another saturated space for brands.

Successful brand CSR needs communicating. But be careful not to greenwash

While 48 percent of consumers agree that the way brands act can have a positive impact on areas of everyday life (e.g. responsible production methods), few are always convinced of their sincerity and the authenticity of their actions. Consumers turn away when the presentation sounds wrong. They require transparency and are increasingly able to assess if the information given is correct, and to judge the effectiveness of actions and the authenticity of results.

Create open dialogue

Brands that invite the consumer to join them in their commitments and communications, sometimes even co-creating with them, find their actions can have a real amplifying effect. Indeed, in collaborating with the consumer they rely on a trusted third party, which adds to the credibility of their approach.

Tips

To succeed, a brand’s actions and communications must be based on five criteria:

  1. consistency over mission, values, and business
  2. legitimacy and differentiation of the cause
  3. sincere communication
  4. credibility and evidence of commitment
  5. emotional engagement of consumers