From recyclable packaging to charitable giving to age-appropriate consumer targeting, brands have long been weaving social responsibility marketing efforts into their growth plan. The idea is that you can make money while making a difference – a balancing act that businesses are expected to manage in the digital age and the 21st century.
A 2015 Nielsen global report revealed that products using environmentally friendly packaging were a purchase driver for 41 percent of the respondents. It gets better, as almost half (45 percent) also considered buying more from an eco-conscious consumer brand, while 59 percent said health and wellness benefits influenced their purchasing decisions.
There’s indeed a rising demand for socially responsible companies. But what is social responsibility in marketing? It involves addressing social, ethical and environmental factors in the promotion of products or services and showing the positive impact and direct benefits of the offering to your target audience.
No matter your niche or industry, you can use a social responsible marketing strategy to expand your business. This article helps you get started by laying down the characteristics and components of this concept and providing reasons for prioritizing how to be socially responsible right now.
How To Be Socially Responsible: The American Marketing Association Code of Ethics
As marketers and business owners, we contribute to the economic vibrancy of our community, region and even country. But aside from profit-making, we are expected to provide benefits to society in one way or another.
We can focus our marketing efforts to align with this expectation. The American Marketing Association (AMA) is the go-to organization if we need guidance on how to employ socially responsible marketing.
Here are the foundational values derived from its marketing code of ethics:
• Honesty – Social responsibility and ethics in marketing dictate that we deliver on the promises cited and implied in our marketing message. This includes making truthful claims about what a product or service can do.
• Responsibility – Recognize that marketing decisions and strategies affect stakeholders, such as your customers and community. Socially responsible companies make it their duty to meet the needs of their target market. One great example would be catering to differently-abled site users by being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
• Fairness – Manipulative and deceptive tactics have no place in ethical marketing. For instance, a reliable social responsibility marketing agency would maintain white-hat search engine optimization (SEO) practices and respect user privacy in data collection.
• Respect – The golden rule applies to the American Marketing Association code of ethics: treat others – your team members, clients, suppliers, distributors and anyone contributing to your marketing efforts – as you would wish to be treated. You are expected to value individual differences no matter the age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
• Transparency – You cannot practice socially responsible marketing without this fundamental element of the marketing code of ethics. Any serious social responsibility marketing company would advise you to communicate your message clearly, informing stakeholders of the possible risks and other factors that impact purchasing decisions.
• Citizenship – This is where corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social responsibility in marketing intersect. Considering the environmental impact, encouraging fair trade in the supply chain and volunteering and donating to charities are all part of this tenet.
What is corporate social responsibility?
Investopedia defines corporate social responsibility as a “self-regulating business model” that strives for accountability toward the economic, social, environmental and other aspects affected by commercial practices and policies. Before, it used to be an internal pursuit. With social responsibility marketing, you focus on “attracting customers who want to make a positive difference with their purchases.”
Five Reasons Social Responsible Marketing Is Important
What is social responsibility in marketing for, and why do we need it? Here are the reasons it is more crucial than ever to consider the effects of our marketing practices and decisions on the environment and society:
Having a Moral Compass As Marketers
Ethics gives us guidance on what we ought to do as marketers. Our need, desire and objectives for ethical marketing are embodied in the marketing code of ethics. And with the American Marketing Association code of ethics as a framework, you can observe social responsible marketing. This offers a sense of direction to your digital marketing strategy on top of trends and tactics.
Adapting to Changing Consumer Behavior
This century has seen consumers continue to grow smarter when it comes to their choices. People are buying products and services that have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing, the environment and society. This involves looking at the supply chain that leads to the output, such as whether products are ethically sourced.
If you don’t pay attention to this demand shift, you might lose customers to the business that does. By applying ethics in marketing, you’re focusing on listening and adapting to their needs while also drawing those who share the same values as you.
Covering Legal Grounds
Of course, a good social responsibility marketing company would tell you that social responsibility marketing goes beyond legal issues. Yet, in following regulations such as the creation of an ADA-compliant website, you’re fulfilling your moral obligation to all online users – without exceptions.
Addressing Real-World Impact
Business actions, choices and decisions affect their communities. By that metric alone, you should carefully consider how to be socially responsible, increasing your positive impact while minimizing the negative. Something as simple as switching to recyclable packaging, hiring marginalized community members as employees and producing sustainable goods can get the ethical marketing ball rolling.
Building Trust and Reputation
Last but not least, trust-building and online reputation management are as much a reason for as they are a benefit of social responsibility marketing. Today, it’s vital to maintain a positive image and branding to cultivate a loyal customer base. For one, this means you should uphold ethics in marketing and avoid greenwashing, which refers to practices that make businesses appear more socially responsible than they really are.
Whether you have an in-house team or are working with a social responsibility marketing agency, ensure your campaigns, promotions and marketing activities are authentic and effective.
Two Socially Responsible Marketing Examples
How do you separate the socially responsible companies from the rest? First, you look beyond marketing and focus on the whole operation. As we pointed out earlier, some brands and businesses may appear eco-conscious, especially on social media, but are they testing their products on animals? Where does their waste go?
Of course, there are companies that show us the answer to what is corporate social responsibility in action going to look like? Here are a couple of socially responsible marketing examples to inspire and encourage you:
Ben & Jerry’s
Aside from delicious ice cream and other dairy products, Ben & Jerry’s is known for its social activism. As expected from a brand with global influence and impact, the brand has expanded its supply chain to support racial diversity and social equity. Its sourcing strategy has zoned in on preserving the environment and promoting animal welfare.
As the first of our socially responsible marketing examples, Ben & Jerry’s also boasts a B Corp certification.
Large fast-fashion companies may come to mind when pondering, what is corporate social responsibility? But one relatively small brand has had the chance to start things right from the get-go. Taylor Stitch strives to source sustainable materials for its shirts, design them to last long, keep its apparel out of landfills and support causes through chosen partnerships.
Ready To Expand Your Responsibility?
This article has just answered, What is social responsibility in marketing? We’ve also touched on why it’s important and given you some ideas on what will happen if you ignore it.
Big or small, your business can make a difference. While the concept of social responsible marketing may sound new, we hope you’ve gained the confidence to tackle it next time you meet with your company’s decision-makers. One of the things you can also do is to seek help from a social responsibility marketing company.
Thrive is one such social responsibility marketing agency. We’ve worked hand-in-hand with companies of all sizes in managing the moving parts of social responsible marketing. It’s something we’ve known not just in theory but also in practice, thanks to our over 16 years’ worth of commitment to ethical SEO and web marketing practices.
If you’re ready to take your economic, social and environmental duty to the next level, tap into our sustainable digital marketing solutions. Drop us a line at 866-908-4748 or send us a message through this channel.