Nielsen: Doing Well By Doing Good

3 07 2014

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55% of global respondents in Nielsen’s corporate social responsibility survey were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact—an increase from 45% in 2011.  However, people living in North America lag the global average, with only 42% saying they would be willing to pay extra – a 7% increase from three years ago.

As continued impactful climate change events and social consciousness raises people’s concern about companies’ impact on society, the importance of brand’s corporate responsibility reputations will continue to rise.  Brands which act responsibly and communicate those actions effectively will increasingly be the ones rewarded by consumers.

 

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Images:  Future Leaders in Philanthropy, Nielsen

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GINN: Impact Investing To Grow 12% in 2013

10 01 2013

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The Global Impact Investing Network (GINN) – in partnership with JP Morgan – has published a new report “Perspectives on Progress” surveying impact investment trends.  The survey indicates that respondents report that they committed $8 billion to impact investments in 2012, and plan to commit $9 billion in 2013.

As defined by GINN, “Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. They can be made in both emerging and developed in markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending upon the circumstances.”

96% of survey respondents say they measure their social/environmental impact of their investments and four out of five fund managers highlight the importance of impact measurement for raising capital.  The survey measured the behaviors and attitudes of a total of 99 investment organizations.

Sixty-four percent of equity investor respondents stated that they had at least one, if not many, investments significantly outperform their financial return expectations while delivering the expected impact.  When asked about their top motivations for impact investments, investors cited commitment to being a responsible investor, efficiency in meeting impact goals and financial attractiveness relative to other opportunities as the top three reasons for making impact investments.

Interestingly, Sub-Saharan Africa received the largest percentage of impact investments with 34%.  Latin America and North America tied with 32% of impact investments.  Oceania came in last with only 5% of the investments.

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You can download a copy of the GINN report here.





Unilever: Partnership to help African Hand Washing Initiative

30 10 2012

Unilever and the Earth Institute have announced a new initiative to bring hand washing with soap – a lifesaving habit – to the Millennium Villages, a project that works with nearly 500,000 people in rural villages, across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 

”The big issues the world is facing require new approaches, new business models and new partnerships. Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role.” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, “The memo of understanding with the Earth Institute partnering Lifebuoy with the Millennium Villages Project is one such example where working together will enhance our expertise of addressing hygiene in deep rural Africa and enable us to develop more effective solutions to reduce child mortality.”

The partnership supports Unilever’s goal to deliver on one of its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan – to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Over the past two years, Unilever has successfully changed the hand washing behaviour of 50 million people in Africa and South-Asia, through its leading soap brand Lifebuoy and partnerships with Population Services International (PSI) and UNICEF established through the Unilever Foundation.

“It is unacceptable that two million children die every year from infectious diseases when we have easy and cheap lifesaving solutions, such as hand washing with soap, readily available. Innovative partnerships between governments, civil society and business have a critical role to play in promoting better hygiene practices and in tackling the world’s deadliest diseases.” said Polman.

Millions around the world are asked to pledge on www.facebook.com/lifebuoy. With every pledge, Lifebuoy and its partners will help more children receive hygiene education through their dedicated handwashing behavior change programs.

In a statement, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University said: “Diarrhoea and pneumonia are the two leading causes of under-5 deaths, accounting for around 30% of children’s deaths globally – more than two million lives lost each year. More than 80% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Addressing these challenges through improved hygiene is a vital and effective step towards saving lives and achieving the global Millennium Development Goal to reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.”

Consistent evidence shows that hand washing with soap at critical times – before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhoeal risk by 45%  and acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia, by 23%.  Studies also reveal that primary school absenteeism due to diarrhoea and respiratory infections dropped between 20% and 50% as a result of better hand washing practices .

“We are looking forward to working with Unilever to ensure that straightforward solutions like hand washing reach the people that need them the most,” said Sachs who leads the Millennium Villages Project.  “The poor need solutions that are affordable, products that are highly effective, and information that is practical and accessible.  The benefits can be enormous.”

The partnership will be focusing on villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, and aims to: decrease incidence in diarrhoeal diseases, promote gender equality, increase school attendance, enhance productivity and well-being for all community members. The partnership will also focus on governments. Governments should integrate hand washing with soap into national health and education policy frameworks. Governments and aid donors should ensure adequate finance for hygiene facilities and water availabilities. Business must act too, ensuring their products are even more affordable, and varied so that handwashing with soap is done everywhere and by all. Public-private partnerships have role to play and can help governments harness the power of business for the benefit of their population’s health.

Looking to the UN’s post-2015 agenda, Polman said, “It will be important to ensure that hygiene takes its place alongside targets on water and sanitation. This partnership with Millennium Villages Project will provide further evidence to demonstrate to policymakers how hygiene public policy can be improved, and help bring to an end the scandal of children dying from preventable diseases.





Conference Board: What Board Members Should Know About Communicating CSR.

23 03 2012

In a significant white paper directed to corporate board members, The Conference Board has challenged directors to be aware of the benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and the challenges of communicating those actions to key stakeholders in the enterprise.

While the business benefits of CSR activities are now well-documented, the report says, “…communicating these activities are far from simple. If stakeholders perceive a lack of clarity regarding the company’s commitment to CSR, doubt the effectiveness of its CSR initiative, or miss the connection of a certain sociality activity to the core business, a backlash can occur.  CSR communication must overcome stakeholder skepticism to generate favorable CSR attributions.”

The report identified 6 key recommendations for board members to provide guidance for communicating CSR strategies:

1.  Seek CSR activities that fit into the business strategy.

2.  Emphasize CSR commitment and impact to foster consumer advocacy.

3. Seek credibility through the support of independent, external communication sources.

4.  Encourage employee and consumer word-of-mouth.

5.  Select social initiatives with high issue support.

6. Be mindful of stakeholder perception of business industry.

Here is a chart demonstrating how companies are

currently communicating CSR activities.

We are still surprised how passive and latent the CSR communications activities are.  The Conference Board recommends in their research that more consumer engagement is a critical next step to elevate CSR attribution and success.

The report says “a company’s CSR positioning can significantly amplify the effectiveness of CSR communication.  Stakeholders are likely to pay more attention to a comprehensive and coherent CSR message and believe in the authenticity of the social commitment.”

In other words, CSR should become a cornerstone asset in the brand’s equity and marketing focus.

The Conference Board Report Is Here.





New Report: 70% of people won’t buy a brand if they don’t like the parent company.

23 01 2012

Weber Shandwick has released the results of “The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust,” a study finding that 70 percent of consumers won’t buy into a brand if they don’t like the parent company. Among senior execs, 87 percent said that having a strong brand for the parent company is as important as having a strong product brand.

Responsible brand behaviors also influence purchase decisions.  57% of Americans said “more and more I try to buy products made by a company that does good things for the environment or community” – with 83% of Chinese consumers agreeing to the same statement.  57% of Americans say they “get annoyed when it’s not obvious what company is behind a product.” and 56 percent said they “hesitate” to purchase a product if they can’t tell which company makes it.

Says Micho Spring, Global Corporate Chair of Weber Shandwick, “In this always-on, multi-platform, uncertain world, corporate brands are more important than ever because they provide an anchor of trust and credibility in a sea of dynamic, continual change. A strong corporate brand is essential to unlocking the full value of the enterprise and strengthening its brands, products and services as a result.”

Implications from the report included: invest more time and energy in branding the parent company like making website improvements that go into greater detail, clear labeling (more than two-thirds of respondents said they’re checking labels), and use promotional campaigns as an opportunity to talk about the parent company and the individual brands.

The study concluded:

“Corporate reputation and brand reputation are now nearly indivisible. The importance of a firm’s reputation matters more than ever and is unified with the reputation of product brands to create one powerful enterprise brand. Consumers want assurance that their well-earned dollars, yuan, pounds or reais are spent on products produced by companies that share their values. They have higher expectations for the companies and the brands they like and are not hesitant to turn their backs when they are disappointed or fooled.”

Download a copy of the report here.

KRC Research, IPG’s market research firm, polled 1,375 consumers and 575 senior execs at companies with annual revenue of $500 million or more in October and November 2011. Research was conducted online in the U.S., U.K., China, and Brazil.

Original post on PR Newser





The Enlightened Trend: Shared Value vs. Shareholder Value.

1 12 2011

93% of CEOs believe sustainability issues will be key to business success in the future.  The concept of creating shared value vs. shareholder value is beginning to penetrate the consciousness of many corporate boardrooms. This new report from FSG – the nonprofit consulting firm – gives best in class examples of social engagement strategies where corporate and social issues are aligned.

According to FSG, “the most advanced companies have begun to look at social engagement through a different lens entirely.  Rather than seeing business and society in opposition, they recognize the enormous potential of business to contribute to social progress.  At the same time, they understand that firms depend on healthy and well-functioning societies to thrive.  Such companies seek to create “shared value” – incorporating social issues into their core business strategies to benefit both society and their own long-term competitiveness.”

Says Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, “What’s happening now is really a redefinition of the boundaries of capitalism.  Creating shared value is the next stage of evolution in the sophistication of the capitalist model.”

The report was sponsored by HP and features examples from global business leaders committed to creating shared value, including Alcoa, GE, Cisco, and Nestle among others.

You can download a pdf of the report here.

(Figure from FSG)





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