Developing a Social Responsibility Program

What does it mean for a brand to be socially responsible? And how can your brand stand out when competitors have strong similarities in their products and social responsibility programs? These questions are important for consumer goods companies to consider as consumers demand more from the brands they buy. Everything from clothing to water bottles to the type of flooring in a home has sustainable and socially responsible options.

Produce brands have strong reasons for not only being sustainable and socially responsible, but also marketing their products with these brand differentiators. Popular terms like organic and fair trade are likely a part of any shopper’s vocabulary, but the same consumer may have questions as to what it all really means.

A brand is socially responsible when it stands up for a cause that helps benefit communities, workers, the environment and our world. Whether it is a societal or environmental cause, shoppers are more likely to become loyal customers if they believe that a brand is also altruistic. Studies have found that both Millennials and Generation Z shoppers really care about environment and sustainability. According to a report by Retail Dive, “millennials (75%) alter their buying habits to align with the environment, and say they would spend more for sustainable products,” along with “63% of Gen Z consumers saying they are more likely to buy from a company that contributes to a social cause.”

There are many ways for brands to stand out with a social responsibility program. The first thing that should be considered is relevance of the social contributions to products and the mission of an organization. It helps if there is an easy matrix for buyers to understand. Something like planting a tree for every candle purchased, donating a certain percentage to hunger for every shoe sold or stating how many children can be educated through buying bananas for the breakfast table are a few of the endless options to consider.

Oster and Associates helped Organics Unlimited, a pioneer in the organic banana industry, develop a successful program that truly gives back to banana growing regions in Mexico and Ecuador. The GROW program was created to promote sustainability, education and health care to underserved communities through the sale of Organics Unlimited’s GROW label organic Cavendish bananas. GROW has provided nearly $3 million in aid since 2005. A percentage derived from the purchase of each box of GROW organic bananas is earmarked for the GROW fund. These funds are used for youth educational programs and health clinics along with dental and vision care in Mexico, clean water and early childhood education programs in Ecuador, disaster relief and environmental initiatives.

From a marketing perspective, sales have soared with increased demand for GROW organic bananas. Organic produce consumers love supporting a company that is deeply committed to helping others and it all happens simply by eating healthy organic fruit.

Social responsibility is an expectation of conducting business these days, but it is also a differentiator that has helped many brands prosper. If your brand needs help developing a social responsibility program, we would love to talk to you!

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