3 Ways CSR Helps Brands Do Better

In 2018, the world of business is a particularly competitive one. With start-ups and small businesses making up 99.7% of US employer firms, 64% of net new private sector jobs, and 49.2% of private sector employment, the scope for business has never been brighter. The rise of digital based companies means that brands and corporations can spring up overnight with little resources, and grow at a rapid rate. But, while figures have dropped since 2007, the latest research shows that 452,835 viable businesses were started in 2014 alone.

So, in such a saturated market, it’s difficult for brands to stand out from the crowd, especially with such similar trends in certain sectors. One such way they can do this is through enhancing their corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to Forbes, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced products, while 81% of millennials expect companies to publicly declare their corporate stewardship. So with CSR being such an important factor in achieving brand success, how are companies doing it in a way to stand out from the crowd? How can playing Texas Hold ‘Em poker, and buying canvas shoes and electric cars help make the world a better place?

Charity Poker Games

Enhancing a CSR profile doesn’t have to involve huge campaigns to change the way a consumer views the world or make a massive impact on their lives. Most sustainability happens gradually, but driving awareness for key issues is equally important in the world of CSR. Charity poker games are one such way that brands can help drive their cause while still appealing to the mass market through something they would enjoy to be involved with, such as the very popular card game of poker and its many variants, from Omaha to No limit hold'em. Many star poker players donate cash to charity from their winnings, such as in 2006 when hedge fund manager David Einhorn donated all $659,730 of his deep run in Texas Hold ‘Em to Michael J Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease charity. In fact, the worlds of poker and charity often go hand in hand as shown by the poker player fronted charity REG (Raising for Effective Giving). The charity inspires poker players and professional gamblers to give back to the community. Since 2014, the charity has raised over $3million. In addition, 888poker teamed up with REG for a campaign to raise for preventing malaria, and have raised $91,225, which helped buy 18,809 malaria nets. The brand’s link to charity helps personalise and humanise it, showing that businesses can aim to use their profile for the greater good. And in return, their own profile will be seen favourably.

Toms "One for One"

The fundamental business idea behind fashion retailer, eyewear specialist and coffee creator Toms is that for each product purchased, something is directly done for charity. Initially, it referred to their espadrille canvas shoes, which promised to donate a pair of shoes for every pair bought, but the idea spiralled out into making a cash donation for a developing country resident's eye health for every pair of glasses. 2014 saw the Toms brand launch into roasting coffee, which aided clean drinking water foundations, and 2015 saw a bag range which promoted maternal health. The connection in people’s minds with Toms shoes – which were used as a styling device for One Direction – is that they are a strongly altruistic brand. Over 35 million pairs of shoes have literally been given away, and profits are still being posted, with the market on canvas shoes being cornered. Regular PR stunts, such as the 2016 One Day Without Shoes campaign, bring Toms back into the public’s mind, and the feeling of doing good for purchasing their products may act as a definite sway in someone’s mind when considering two similar pairs of shoes. The fact that Toms continues to succeed, as proven by the current market state, shows that consumers care about companies using their platform and power to do good in the world that the individual can’t do themselves. Once more, corporate social responsibility is proving to be the defining factor in choosing a brand.   

Tesla’s Electric Cars

Elon Musk – the man behind revolutionary tech giant Tesla – has systematically forged ahead with his plan to reduce the carbon footprint of diesel-guzzling vehicles by developing hybrids. By combining the need for the latest technology and the desire to be ahead of the curve, with a passion for caring about the planet, Tesla plans to target the early adopters of the first true electric cars. In essence, they aim to make caring about the environment "cool". A decade ago, Musk laid out a Master Plan to save the environment, which is being enacted on the streets of America today - his hope for transitioning to a sustainable environment. Tesla’s sales figures for electric vehicles in 2017 top over 160,000. But the overall electric vehicle market itself is also growing. Healthy competition in a free market economy is crucial for pushing the envelope and creating sustained development, and the rise in other manufacturers bringing out rival EV models shows that Tesla’s grand plan is cleverer than we first thought. By driving the electric market up in an EV race, he is using his business acumen to push for the environment, unbeknownst to some of the people purchasing the cars, who may be doing so to be at the forefront of technology. By making sure new technology equates to environmentalism, Tesla is able to fit doing good into their business plan, while reaping the benefits of CSR at the same time.

Corporate social responsibility is undeniably imperative, especially as the world moves towards a more eco-focused way of trading. Brands, should they want to succeed, they should devote a portion of their time, profits, and strategy planning to deciding how they are going to make their mark in the world. Not only does CSR improve the value of a PR story, it also further helps outline a company’s individual ethos, showcasing what they stand for in a way that products and services often can’t do. As seen with the charity poker games, the charitable business strategy of Toms, and Tesla, having a heavily leaning and transparent CSR side does wonders for brands.

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