Four Steps For Growing Sales Through Corporate Social Responsibility

“Consumers want it all,” according to Executive Vice President Jonathan Yohannan of Cone Communications. Consumers want competitive prices, they want product performance and they want personal solutions to their environmental and human-health concerns. Based upon the latest survey by Cone Communications, Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker, consumers have now added a fourth purchase expectation. Consumers want to see proof that your company and your products deliver socially responsible results.

Grow sales through CSR results

The number that leaps off the page of Cone Communication’s latest consumer research is that

82 percent of surveyed consumers say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives compared to a product that does not.

As tellingly, this research documented that 40 percent of surveyed consumers will not purchase a company’s product if a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives are not communicated.

Cone Communication’s research documents that CSR has now moved in the minds of the consumers from a regulatory compliance to a procurement expectation. The path for winning competitive advantage and sales is through communicating real corporate social responsibility results.

More good news! Consumers want your business to profit

Cone Communications has also broken new ground by identifying that consumers understand your business must earn a profit. Not only do consumers want it all for themselves they want it all for your business, too. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed “recognized that for a company to make a societal impact it must also realize a business return, such as increased revenues or reduced costs.” Consumers want your business to make money by doing good.

How to grow your revenues through corporate social responsibility

Here are four key steps for developing a successful corporate social responsibility program that will win customers:

Measure What Is Important. Is your business a major consumer of water? Does your business generate large volumes of CO2 emissions? Are your processes producing waste of food and materials that end up in landfill? Is your business success anchored upon paying a non-livable wage to overseas workers? Doing feel-good promotional ads about polar bears is not what consumers are seeking in terms of how they define corporate responsible results. They want to see specific results achieved your company that addresses your company’s social, health and environmental impacts. The first step in doing so is to measure your company’s corporate responsibility “hotspots.” The numbers here are overwhelmingly clear:

90 percent of consumers believe companies should tell them MORE ABOUT THE RESULTS of their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts than just the amount of money they donate or invest.

CSR Results Generate Sales Opportunities. For consumers it is no longer good enough to say your company supports the American Cancer Society if your products, packaging or emissions contain cancer-causing chemicals. Consumers are now looking at the fast-food industry with jaundiced eyes over their introduction of healthier food products while they still run aggressive price promotions for sugar-laced, high-fat foods infused with chemical preservatives. What the Cone Communications research documents is that consumers want to see real results not token efforts from the companies they do business with.

Win The Consumer’s Trust. Trust, authenticity and transparency are now the hot marketing buzzwords for winning customers as consumers turn to their fellow consumers via social media and smart phones for insights on what to buy and who to buy from. The Cone Communications research found that 86 percent of surveyed consumers are more likely to trust a company that communicates the results or impact of its corporate social responsibility efforts. Even more important in terms of growing revenues,

82 percent of surveyed consumers are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of…corporate social responsibility initiatives than one that does not.

Consumers want to buy products from companies that have won their trust by demonstrating meaningful corporate social responsibility results.

Make Money By Making It Personal. The art of business is making that personal connection. A survey by rbb Public Relations found that 83 percent of consumers are willing to pay more when they feel a personal connection to the company. One-fifth said they would pay 50 percent or more if they felt the company put the customer first. Do you want to move your company from being defined by your price competitiveness? Implementing a corporate social responsibility program that delivers personal results valued by your target customers is the path for doing so.

Exclusive Interview: Jonathan Yohannan of Cone Communications
Watch this three-minute edited interview conducted at the Sustainable Brands 2012 Conference to learn more about how to grow your business success through corporate social responsibility.

Bill Roth is the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues.

Founder of Earth 2017. Author of The Boomer Generation Diet: Lose Weight. Have Fun. Live More that Jen Boynton, Editor in Chief of Triple Pundit , says is "Written in Bill Roth's lovable, relatable tone. A must read for any Boomer who is looking to jumpstart their health and have fun at the same time. I hope my parents read it. "

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