Is CSR Going to be Important Post-Pandemic?
Change and evolution are vital in the business world, and this is precisely what we observe if we’re analyzing business practices in the past years. Business people hate nothing more than hold-ups, so a constant adjustment of practices and ideas leads to a more dynamic than ever economic climate. Speed and innovation make up for some of the most important characteristics of companies nowadays.
In the never-ending competition for the customers’ attention and loyalty, companies are always looking for strategies to maximize their visibility and attract as much audience as they can. CSR becomes an essential factor for companies, as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic and furthermore, as we will see after the lockdown. The consumers have become more and more value-centered, wanting their principles to reflect on the companies’ practices and to be convinced that companies’ activities are true, not only because it is good PR for the business. In a world with almost unlimited information access and countless communication opportunities, if a company’s impact on the surrounding natural and social environment is negative, it will greatly influence its image in consumers’ perception.
Is CSR going to be important for brands’ image in 2020?
Yes, more than ever. Today, consumers desire that brands have a real impact on society. From ethical labor practices to philanthropic giving to nonprofits and organized volunteering opportunities to sustainability in procurement, companies must adapt to a more and more exigent public. With so many products and services to choose from, consumers need more than quality and low prices to make a buying decision. Thus, the brand’s image becomes fundamental, and CSR practices show consumers the values a company believes in and its effort to have a positive impact.
How to create a winning CSR strategy while COVID-19 will still be the main focus in 2020
2020 that many companies had designed for this year – previous COVID-19 pandemic – now looks different from what they originally had in mind. However, the adjustment for many companies was made on the fly, each trying to contribute and help those most in need. More than ever, social involvement is imperative. Still, there are some things to keep in mind when creating a strategy:
- Link the activities to your company values
This is the most efficient way to make your actions truthful. By aligning your CSR strategies to your company values, you enhance your brand identity. As your positive impact grows, it will be easier for customers to identify with your company as you share the same values and goals. At the same time, by enacting actions that reflect company values, it will make easier for your employees to show their support and commitment to the causes you emphasize.
- Include your customers’ priorities in your actions
As cliché as it sounds, information is power. Knowing what your customers think and expect from your brand is good business management. Take this, for example. Imagine your customers are concerned about equal pay between men and women, or social equity in all its forms. Creating a more inclusive work environment should become your priority. Consumers love seeing that their input reflects on companies’ decisions and activity, so CSR can be a great tool to strengthen the relationship between brand and customers.
- Make sure that your employees support your strategy
The values and customers’ input play a big role in developing a successful CSR strategy. Moreover, your employees’ buying-in and investing their energy in supporting the cause is fundamental.
Ask them what they believe about how your CSR efforts should look, and this way you will have a more transparent image of what your employees find valuable. The more your employees support your CSR efforts, the more the community will increase thanks to their commitment, as they feel that their work matters and have a positive impact.
- Understand your community needs
You don’t have to do all by yourself. You can count on your local community and organizations who know the particular problems that are there. Collaboration with local organizations is a great opportunity for you to implement strategies that truly benefit people in the proximity of the brand. Supporting causes in the community where the brand activates is essential for customers, as this strategy is connecting the dots between customers’ expectations, your employees’ expectations, and your company values.
Since it emerged as an effective tool of marketing, CSR has evolved and become more and more efficient. From philanthropic donations to social causes in local communities to global objectives like reducing the carbon footprint and saving the environment, CSR has transformed brands efforts.
In 2020, such practices will grow into even stronger channels of communication with consumers. To fulfill their demands, brands must address more complex issues, like so-called ESG factors – environmental, social, governance. Nevertheless, companies have nowadays a responsibility especially to help those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Most important: before even considering a CSR strategy, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and always because you genuinely care. If not, all the CSR activities and efforts will eventually be turned against the company, damaging its image and even risking an image crisis.