social responsibility marketing
Consumers in 2018 have no problem accessing information. In a time where finding a company’s track record is a mouse-click away, reputation is key. A scandal gone viral can be the only thing needed to affect an otherwise strong company.

In 2017, United Airlines experienced this firsthand. A video showing officials dragging a passenger off a flight lead to uproar across the world. Many wanted a complete boycott of the airline, a frequent result of company scandals.

Most companies are not handling a major PR crisis like United’s. But that does not mean that positive brand image is any less critical to success. Millennial consumers have steadily-increasing purchasing power in the global economy, providing a unique challenge. To appeal to millennial consumers, companies must recognize value differences from previous generations.

Prioritizing social responsibility marketing (SRM) is one of these differences. This strategy focuses on customers wanting to make a difference through their purchases. Social responsibility marketing takes many forms. Sustainable packaging, volunteer-focused ad campaigns and product donations are all possible SRM strategies.

A majority of millennial consumers look for social responsibility marketing when purchasing. This age demographic expects companies to be upfront with social responsibility, spending more on ethical, helpful products. But the shift toward social responsibility is more than an opportunity for a company. For the millions that struggle with food and water insecurity globally, SRM is good news.

Here are the top four ways that social responsibility marketing helps fight poverty.

  1. By Providing Food
    With consumers pushing for social responsibility, ground campaigns are a frequent response. The intention of these programs is to provide aid, such as food and water, directly to those in need. Notable companies have launched major campaigns that do exactly that.
    Kraft Heinz Company set a goal to provide one billion meals by the year 2021. By doing so, Kraft Heinz Company has shown a company priority for social responsibility. Given the impact on global poverty of so many donated meals, the situation is a true win-win.
  1. By Empowering Women
    A branding focus toward social responsibility marketing can provide unique benefits to women. Consumers have pushed companies toward sourcing their products in a socially-responsible way. With increased attention on sourcing, programs to hire women and offer products made by women in developing nations have emerged.
    Coca-Cola launched an initiative to hire five million women by 2020. In the age of social responsibility marketing, this is hardly out of the ordinary for a company to do.
  1. By Helping at the Corporate Level
    Besides helping those in need, SRM helps companies be successful. A company that is socially-responsible can use social responsibility to connect with consumers. By helping improve global conditions, a company creates positive brand associations. These positive brand associations are critical to customer loyalty. With people placing high importance on social responsibility, that loyalty is essential.
  1. By Preserving the Environment
    Changing consumer preferences push companies toward behaviors that help the environment. In practice of implementing an SRM strategy, making products has changed. Processes have become better for the environment and produce fewer pollutants.
    Beyond socially-conscious production materials, basic operations have become better for the environment too. A focus on minimizing waste and maximizing resources has emerged. Recycling and conservation have become standards, not perks. For the environment, this push is long overdue.

On the whole, social responsibility marketing has changed the way companies do business. Consumers continue to demand better practices from companies, and companies are listening.

– Robert Stephen

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 TEDx Talk Challenges Perceptions About Aid

In April, Anna Hagemann Rise gave a global poverty TEDx talk at the Stockholm School of Economics (TEDxSSE) entitled “Why we need a rethink in the fight against global poverty.” Her lecture focused on “trade versus aid” and the complexity of sustainably solving global poverty.

Rise begins her talk by posing a simple question about global poverty relief: “Who’s not in favor?” No hands go up. Of course no one is going to say they are against helping the impoverished. However, this speaker has a unique challenge for her audience.

Rise has a diverse academic background in international politics, communication and peace and conflict resolution. She has worked for the UN in various positions both in the U. S. and in Denmark, her home country. Her recent work has included communications, media, marketing and field work with the Swedish fruit smoothie company Froosh. She is currently its Group Communication & Public Affairs Director.

Rise admitted in her talk that her thinking about aid was initially “institutionalized” by her education. She perceived that trading with developing countries was exploitation, and that giving aid was always a helpful poverty solution.

As she traveled with Froosh and worked on the farms in developing countries where the company buys its produce, Rise saw the value in supporting farmers through trade. She realized that buying from developing countries was a sustainable way to fight poverty. In fact, she believes that this is the best way to fight global poverty.

In her global poverty TEDx talk, Rise passionately recounted how influential the fruit farms that she visits are in their own communities. For example, Guatemalan fruit farms invest in schools, local businesses and even housing in order to give back to their communities. Rise saw the value in the long-term investments that these farms were making to develop their communities.

Rise believes that the key to solving poverty is this type of long-term thinking that creates more sustainable solutions. According to her, the private and public sectors must work together to accomplish this. As she expressed in her talk and an interview, sustainable solutions require involvement and cooperation from both sectors.

Unfortunately, a vast number of trade barriers and bureaucratic procedures still exist that impair developing countries from trading with the rest of the world. The media can also negatively impact trade in developing countries since popular sentiments are not always open to some of these nations.

As Rise put it in her talk, “We need to be open and honest about how the conditions and how the reality is for these people.” For example, aid can sometimes harm developing nations despite good intentions. Leaders can misuse aid money and NGOs sometimes fail to provide long-term solutions for developing communities.

For this reason, Rise encouraged her audience to think critically about where aid money goes and how it works in developing communities. Educated consumerism is a “trendy” way to support good causes. But in her opinion, labels are simply advertising techniques for corporations to connect with conscious consumers.

So although buying from developing countries is good, it is important to keep questioning and challenging the system. “All aid is not bad. Of course. All trade is not good. No, of course not. All labels are not bad, either.”

Since global poverty is not a cut-and-dry issue, Rise’s advice to challenge the simple answers proves valuable for everyone concerned with helping to solve world poverty. “The world is not black and white. It’s actually very colorful.”

Rise’s global poverty TEDx talk encourages people to use the knowledge and inquisitiveness of this colorful world to improve conditions for all humans everywhere.

“Who’s not in favor?”

–Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr