March 19, 2021

Meaningful CSR – from Corporate to Collective Social Responsibility?

by William Turner in News

“Seventy per cent of consumers believe that big companies need to drive positive change in order to transform our models and champion a desirable future,” Havas’ prosumer report ‘Beyond COVID’ reveals.

As companies slowly start to find their bearings in a new ‘normal’, understanding how – and if – consumers’ affinity towards brands has changed and in what way it has affected their mindsets is no longer an unanswered question. Participants showed that they are expecting real change and commitment from brands more than ever. While some companies emerged stronger from the pandemic, others don’t seem to hit the right cord and often miss vocalising their best efforts to make a meaningful difference in the world. How can they move the needle from driving a traditional social purpose strategy to one that allows their target audience to play an active part?

  • Reacquainting ourselves with their audience – let’s face it, we’ve all evolved. Listening to online conversations will help us keep our fingers on the pulse of what their concerns are and position ourselves as strategic counselors for our clients.
  • Revitalising their vision and mission. Values speak for themselves – 77% of consumers prefer to buy products from a brand that has a strong vision of the future.
    It might be time to dust off your client’s existing statements and adapt them to incorporate new values that will resonate with today’s consumers.
  • Bold convictions require strong actions. Once the vision of the company is clearly defined, the selection of relevant CSR activities and partnerships will naturally flow. How will they help a brand deliver functional, personal and collective benefits – that will, in the process, help them survive in a world where people wouldn’t care if 77% of brands disappeared?
  • Accountability = credibility. A brand must stick to its promises and timelines. Making the effort to revitalize their commitments to make meaningful advances on sustainability will be perceived as genuine if the change comes from within, not from a desperate act to guard their reputation – or even to hop on a trend.
  • Aiming for a collective impact. The study also revealed that “the crisis has only heightened and accelerated people’s desire for radical action when it comes to meaningful change” – they’re ready to act. But before we start letting them play an active role in a brand’s CSR activities, a two-way communication channel begins with a face and voice of the brand. Can our local audience relate to their spokesperson? Does he or she speak their language, share similar values and even inspire them? It might be time to freshen up their public speaking skills.
  • Sharing results – the media crave statistics, research and reports, but a feel-good success story that has impacted their community will also stand out. As a matter of fact, 87% of millennials believe the success of a business should be measured by more than just financial impact. It’s time to step out of our pre-pandemic comfort zones and challenge ourselves to brainstorm beyond a viral PR stunt for the masses – and truly impact lives.

Today, 8 in 10 people fear the economic crisis will be greater than the health crisis. As we look towards the future, it’s important to remain optimistic and to reassure audiences. As per Havas’ study, “catastrophic predictions regarding the state of the environment are discouraging people from acting: they seek a reason to believe that their efforts matter and that a brighter future is within our grasp”. Now more than ever is the time to engage with our audience, bearing in mind that 82% of respondents think they would be more motivated to act if they were shown the beauty of all we risk losing rather than reports focused on the bleak reality of eco-destruction. 2020 isn’t a year short of surprises – nor opportunities to make a meaningful difference in this world.

By Mathilde Montel, Corporate Communications Director