Cause related retail

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a new term and has been around since the 1980s. From just 'doing good' CSR today has become a business necessity.
Cause behind service

Socially responsible business practices go a long way in securing a retailer’s successful future. The paying capacity of a consumer has increased over the years, and with it has come an awareness of supporting causes and doing social good. In an environment of social change and corporate social responsibility, consumers are now willing to pay for products which are associated with charitable concerns. Donating a percentage of the profits on sales, or associating your brand with concerns doing good for the community is proving to be a successful strategy for retailers.  

Ways adopted
There are many ways a retailer can adopt to keep his CSR quotient high. A percentage of the maximum retail price (MRP) can be donated to a cause. Organising sales, the proceeds of which go to a trust or tie-up with local NGO’s for promoting volunteering activities are also some methods that can be adopted. ITC Limited, India’s foremost private sector company has a history of collaborating with communities and government institutions in fulfilling its promise to corporate citizenship. Changing the lives of thousands with the e-choupal portal for farmers to enhance farm produce and rural development with the ‘Mission Sunehra Kal’ are few of the examples of successful CSR. Making a conscious effort to be aware of your surroundings and to combine commercial profit along with social good is what most retailers are turning to. Cause related marketing is another route that Procter and Gamble (P&G) have taken for the company’s CSR. P&G joined hands with Child Relief and You (CRY) and Sony Entertainment Television (SET) to launch ‘Shiksha’ – a program to help and educate under privileged children across India. Purchase of products like Ariel, Vicks, Tide etc allowed the customer a chance to win Rs Two lakh towards graduate education for their child. Body Shop International is known for its initiatives in the field of social responsibility; against animal testing and creating an awareness to stop the spread of HIV, helping out to end domestic violence are some of its campaigns.  

Being a business necessity, CSR also works as a good branding exercise if taken as a cause-related marketing strategy wherein a retailer takes steps towards enhancing and maintaining his brand’s image and loyalty with customers. People though keen on spending well today, are gradually becoming aware of the importance of supporting causes for a better future. Cashing in on this sentiment, a brand can garner a positive PR as customers welcome the idea of shopping with brands whose concerns extend beyond profits alone. Such initiatives lead to a better brand positioning, an increased appeal to customers and investors and an enhanced corporate image and clout. CSR is also a way of boosting the ‘feel-good’ factor of a company’s work environment by enabling its employees to feel a sense of fulfilment of giving back to the community in the course of pursuing personal profits. A brand must ensure that the cause they are working for goes well with the brand’s identity. Like Canon International’s recycling programme for cartridges and toners promotes their eco concerns. A retailer should keep in mind to advertise well about his brand’s association with charitable concerns so as to let customers be aware of it because the success of such partnerships depends largely on good marketing. 

For retailers to impact change in the world today is not a difficult task as they touch the lives of many. CSR will, in turn, not only spell success for a brand by attaching credibility and honesty to it but also help create a more tolerant and healthy world. Economic performance and social responsibility can and should go hand in hand. 

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