Can social and environmental responsibility deliver monetary value?

Couple days ago I spoke to my landlord about the absence of recycling carts by our building. As of now our household collects all recyclables in giant blue bags. Once we have  3/4 we take them to recycling drop-off center (on a bike trailer). We also compost our food waste, re-purpose containers and only use animal products that come from stress free, happy animals. 

These are my personal values. The reason I’m sharing this is that working with marketers, I notice a lot of them promote themselves as sustainable and socially responsible. I get that. I support that, endorse them but it made me think if there is a monetary impact of publicising social responsibility… I mean that in a monetary sense (the “feel good about yourself” part is obvious).

What is a company’s social responsibility worth?

So here are some observations and factoids in support to being a values-driven corporation.

My intuition tells me that there should be more attention paid to the impact of impressions. Social media is a widely used channel to express companies’ believes (thus make impressions) and can be an effective tool illustrating “behind the scenes” marketing process that shows attention to sustainability (if that’s the case).

REI-trend-profile

REI – a case study in social marketing effectiveness

REI recently came out with a remarkable announcement – that it would close down for Black Friday and encouraged its employees, customers to spend the day outside. I’m a customer and I LOVED IT.

And then I decided to look up Google trends for “REI Black Friday” going back several years. See the chart on the right. It is telling that the interest level spiked in October – perhaps not to the same level as the spike in the Novembers the previous years – but it is very possible this interest will have a fatter tail going well past Thanksgiving.

By no means am I saying REI’s decision to shut down for Black Friday was a deep marketing ploy. But it made sense at so much levels. It’s about a company running its playbook by its values and not by the retail horde. I will however not be surprised if this leads to a financial windfall for them. And Good for them.

Good social deeds of big brands such as Macy’s are a good example. They made a great Christmas video commercial incorporating their charitable activity. 

Social responsibility is not disconnected from the bottomline

I was pleasantly surprised reading M. Fleischner’s blog post about social responsibility. Generally he writes about marketing, but this time his concern is social good. Here’s his statement: “Whether it’s giving back to the environment, focusing on positive outcomes for individuals, or helping those less fortunate, social responsibility is essential for any business who wants to thrive.” This isn’t just homilies. The impact can be quantified. So in case you want to know what social engagement is worth, download the case study below. 

What's social engagement worth? A Case Study in Revenue Attribution

Photo by Steveen Snodgrass Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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