By Shweta Bapat
When CSR is gaining the attention of companies and society, it becomes relevant to know the answer of such questions. Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study 2015 gives the answer to this question and the answer is YES, Customers do care about the CSR performance of the company of which the product they are buying. According to the study which is a progressive study since 2011, Almost 90% of customers expect companies to take care of social and environmental issues, 84% of consumers says that they buy responsible products whenever possible.
CSR Image of the company plays important role in this. Do you think customers play any role in this image building? Yes they do. Image of the company refers to the perception of the stakeholders about the company. Image of the company creates huge and direct impact on customers and investors.
The CSR image of the company is built because of the social responsibility initiatives undertaken by it. Several studies have shown that CSR image of the company gives direct impact on customers. CSR image increases the brand equity and reputation of the company.
The dictionary meaning of ‘Brand Equity’ is the commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service of the company. The CSR image perceived by customers is believed to have a great impact on customer behaviour mainly customer’s satisfaction, customer loyalty, customers’ willingness to recommend the product or company to the other customers, some customers are ready to donate to the companies they trust, some are even ready to volunteer for the cause.
A lot of research is being done in this area which says customers of different genders, ages and educational characteristics have different orientations towards CSR. The research studies undertaken by the scholars also include how customers construct the CSR image of the company. It mentions that CSR gives direct effect on customer value, customer value has direct impact on corporate image of the company and ultimately on the marketing performance.
Now company needs to decide how they can take an advantage of this scenario. The study also shows that proper communication of CSR efforts to the customers is the area where companies are lacking. In a survey conducted by the PR firm Edelman, 70 percent of consumers said they would pay more to a business that supports worthwhile causes, and more than half would help promote such brands, however, only 39 percent of consumers knew of brands that support good causes.
It shows that if not notified specifically by the companies customers assume that the company is not acting responsibly. It means if companies want to get commercial rewards then they need to communicate CSR efforts clearly to their customers. In fact companies can even think about diverting some of advertisement budget towards the communication of CSR efforts to the customers and ultimately other important stakeholders (like investors) whose perception about the company can contribute towards commercial rewards.
(About the Author: Mrs. Shweta Bapat, HoD Human Resource Management, Kaveri College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Pune)
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