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.
- Based on my personal observations, companies that treat their workers well and lead their business procedures with sustainability in mind have a better customer service and higher ratio of return customer. Check out this small American company – don’t know their ROI but their company values are truly remarkable. Based on reviews, most of their customers feel loyal to the brand.
- On that note… Returning customers are a gold mine – that is a well known fact. “most sources say … it costs between 4 and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one”, says I. Kingwill.
- Question is, how much of an impact to the conversion and customer retention company values have?
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 – 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.