From Buyer Beware To Seller Beware: IBM’s Study On Corporate Social Responsibility.

12 08 2009

“Three quarters of businesses admit they don’t understand their customer’s corporate social responsibility expectations well.”

 – “Attaining sustainable growth through CSR”,

IBM Institute For Business Value


An interesting study of 250 global business leaders has revealed both the business upside to corporate social responsibility and one of the vulnerabilities – companies who embark on CSR initiatives without a true understanding of the expectations of their customers of those efforts.  The report reveals:

  • 68% of companies are now utilizing CSR as a opportunity and platform for growth.
  • 75% acknowledge the number of advocacy groups collecting and reporting information on their company has increased in the last three years.
  • But only 17% of companies say they really engage and collaborate with their customers regarding CSR activities.

Companies that truly understand the corporate social responsbility expectations of their customers report increased revenues and reduced costs and better differentiated products and services.  They believe they are more effective at improving labor practices, driving sustainability initiatives and aligning philanthropy with business priorities.  They also report having more engaged employees in CSR activities.

Ironically, many companies invest millions of dollars in gaining an understanding customers reactions’ to products and services, but the majority are operating a CSR strategy without insight and collaboration with customers.  The truth is your customer feels entitled to know everything “their brand” is doing.  So we echo IBM’s point of view, today the traditional adage “buyer aware” is now reversed to be “seller beware” — especially if you are unaware of your customers’ expectations regarding your social responsibility practices.

Watch an interview with George Pohle of IBM on the CSR Study




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