Good for business
In our unprecedented times, with widespread unemployment, economic slowdown and no plausible end to the status quo (rather an edging forward and back in a dance with COVID-19) it is tempting to think buyers’ price sensitivity overwhelms their desire for a kinder world. However while the correlation between people being worse off and yet having more propensity to donate to charity is counterintuitive, it remains a trend we continue to see.
Certainly many are forced to contract their spend and as such suspend their expectation and judgement of less conscientious organisations in favour of maintaining much of their pre-Covid life, but we are surprised to learn that for many, this has enhanced their belief that companies should do good whilst they do well.
So much has been written on how to create compelling CSR and there are plenty of cautionary tales from those that have sought to profit from it, but is there anything actually wrong with trying to add to your P&L with a commercially and societally sustainable offering?
We think not. We need businesses to be doing well to create community wealth, stimulate employment and put food on the collective table.
Whilst a more mature marketplace values the deeper connections with a brand that make us feel they understand us, it’s long past a cause-popularity contest as most now recognise there are many ways businesses can support their community.
In this mid/post-Pandemic era we are actually demanding that organisations reflect our now stronger sense of individual responsibility.
Collecting prescriptions for neighbours, filling our windows with rainbows and driveways with applause has driven a desire for businesses to echo the positive effect on our communities. Deloitte’s annual millennial survey* showed that nearly 75% of respondents advised the pandemic has made them more sympathetic to the needs of others and expressed a desire to bring a positive contribution to their communities.
It also informs that they believe business needs to do more to support society and that they ‘won’t hesitate to penalise companies whose stated and practiced values conflict with their own’.
Their expectation comes with renewed belief in our ability to protect our planet, since the environmental impact of the pandemic has caused many to reverse their view that the damage we have caused is irreversible.
So the killer question – how can we look after our environment and community in a commercially viable way.
Those whom have done this well have innovated within the businesses core function, supporting a cause which links directly to what they do. Doing this cost neutrally or even additive to the P&L is the holy grail.
It’s not of course to say if one isn’t lucky enough to find a way to support that adds to the business, that you shouldn’t do it – but it’s where you should start. Vodafone offering free data for nurses and other key-workers kept from their loved ones at the height of lockdown is a great example of a brand who got to know their community (https://www.vodafone.com/covid19). They considered how they could support their local network and of course enjoyed the increased awareness and affinity which comes from a seemingly selfless act. You don’t have to be a big corporate to do this either. Liam Wildish is another prime example of getting it right:
If you’d like to talk to us about innovating within your business to support your community, we’d love to listen.