From more sustainable sourcing to social innovation, companies are doing more every day to create positive social change and sustainable solutions—and consumers are increasingly “rewarding” brands that take social responsibility seriously.
Super Market News reports that American supermarket chain, Safeway Inc., has made great strides in its efforts to sustainably source all fresh and frozen seafood by the end of 2015. The brand is already more than halfway to its goal, proving its leadership as a sustainable seafood retailer. In addition, Safeway has saved over 75 million gallons of water, eliminated 300 million plastic bags, and donated 72 million pounds of food.
Speaking of plastic bags, the infamous question of “paper or plastic?” may soon be a thing of the past. According to PackagingDigest.com, standard materials are being replaced with non-toxic, lower weight, biodegradable, reusable and recyclable alternatives. Also, bio-plastics are showing a growth rate of more than 20 percent with production expected to increase from 1.39 million tons in 2012 to 6.18 million tons by 2017. Why? Because packaging influences purchasing decisions—and more consumers are showing a preference for sustainable materials and design.
Picking up on the real-world solutions trend, Eco-Business reports that more organizations are moving beyond donations and philanthropy. Instead, they are becoming actively involved in projects that benefit business and have a positive social impact. Whether showing a focused commitment to a particular issue through a corporate foundation or embedding CSR into company operations, CSR programs and foundations boost employee morale and enhance corporate reputations. And the choice does not have to be one over the other—a greater CSR strategy can work simultaneously with a foundation.
As these efforts illustrate, businesses are doing a lot to give back—but are they doing enough? According to the 2013 UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, as Sustainable Brands reports, two-thirds of CEOs admitted that businesses could be doing more to address sustainability challenges. Although CEOs see engagement with consumers as the single most important factor motivating them to accelerate progress on sustainability, they are often out of step with what motivates consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions.
To engage more effectively with consumers, companies must close the gap between performance and perception, according to Interbrand’s annual Best Global Green Brands report. Commenting on the report, Vikas Vij of JustMeans.com said, “The consumers of today hold the world’s top brands to an exacting standard and expect these brands to act responsibly.” As Interbrand’s research indicates, reducing the gap between socially and environmentally responsible business practices—and consumer perception of those practices—is critical to building brand value.
To find out more about the value of Corporate Citizenship, be sure to check out this month’s installment of Closing the Gap!