The Good, the Generous and the Galvanic: Marketing's Role in Social Responsibility


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This paper explores an area that is returning to the consciousness of organisations and marketers as they simultaneously grapple with shareholders’ growing demands for bottom line performance with the community expectation for them to be more socially, environmentally and ethically responsible.

The paper is designed to stimulate thinking and debate within organisations and the broader marketing community by highlighting key issues around social responsibility and their connection with marketing at multiple levels. In particular, it explores how marketers could play a more proactive role in enabling organisations to become increasingly responsible socially, environmentally and ethically while ensuring the sustainability of bottom line performance.

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The Good, the Generous and the Galvanic: Marketing's Role in Social Responsibility

  1. 1. Thought Leadership Series The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 1 AUSTRALIAN MARKETING INSTITUTE Produced by the NSW Council of the Australian Marketing Institute
  2. 2. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 2 Table of Contents Introduction 3 Purpose 3 The Framework 4 The Good 4 The Generous 7 The Galvanic 8 Why should marketing take a lead? 9 How can marketing help? 10 Why is marketing able to take the lead? 11 Are some customers willing to pay more for socially responsible products? 12 Where to from here? 15 Final word 17 Credits 18 About the Australian Marketing Institute 19 References 19
  3. 3. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 3 Introduction As the leading professional association for marketing in Australia, the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) has consistently shown leadership in critical areas that impact on the future of the marketing profession and those who practise it. Whether it is marketing’s role in the Boardroom, the need for greater accountability, learning the nuances of NFP marketing, championing a multi-sectoral approach to the Chinese market or researching the emerging challenges faced by marketers, the AMI has always assumed a matured approach that balances responsiveness and speed with rigour and sound judgement. Purpose This paper will explore another area that is returning to the consciousness of organisations and marketers as they simultaneously grapple with shareholders’ growing demands for bottom line performance with the community expectation for them to be more socially, environmentally and ethically responsible. Marketers face a daunting challenge that also presents a daring opportunity but, we believe, are well placed to balance these seemingly conflicting forces. The document does not profess to be a complete or authoritative source on the subject. It is merely the work of a few passionate and likeminded, practising marketers who form the membership of the New South Wales Council of the AMI. Our primary purpose is to generate wider discussion on what we consider a vital topic. The paper is therefore designed to stimulate thinking and debate within organisations and the broader marketing community by highlighting key issues around social responsibility and their connection with marketing at multiple levels. In particular, it explores how marketers could play a more proactive role in enabling organisations to become increasingly responsible socially, environmentally and ethically while ensuring the sustainability of bottom line performance. We hope it will spark animated and informed discussions among a cross section of marketing practitioners, educators and business leaders through a variety of channels including direct feedback, social media conversations, and attendance at AMI events etc., so a balanced view and concerted action are both possible. Some others like consultants, accountants, lawyers, HR professionals, Not for Profit organisations, community groups, NGOs and Government agencies may also find this of interest.
  4. 4. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 4 The Framework The paper looks at social* responsibility at three levels. However, these three dimensions are not mutually exclusive and could overlap in different ways and to varying degrees depending on the sector, scale, location and style of an organisation’s operations. The good looks at aspects of marketing mostly within the direct control or influence of the marketing function. In other words, decisions relating to product, pricing, promotion and distribution etc., that have the potential to create opportunities for demonstrating greater transparency in corporate behaviour and concern for the consumer, society and environment collectively leading to increased reputation, competitive advantage or brand preference. The generous focuses on what is commonly regarded as corporate social responsibility, a term that has been used loosely to represent any activity that signals an organisation’s commitment to giving back to society and the community whether or not there is a direct or indirect benefit to the organisation’s present or future performance. Generous includes: a) Philanthropy or altruistic giving b) Cause related marketing involving purchase or promotion of a product or service and c) Sponsorship, i.e. a contribution in cash or in kind in return for access to property/assets that can be commercially leveraged. The third and final dimension, the galvanic, represents the emerging trend towards creating shared value, a concept that symbiotically links community and business self-interest, integrating corporate social responsibility into an organisation’s core business model. Such an approach delivers outcomes that help less advantaged communities to build both productive and consumptive capacity i.e. to become capable producers and able consumers, while creating a spin off bottom line benefit to the business. We will examine each of the above dimensions more closely, explore how they could be meaningfully leveraged while encouraging marketers to think about the opportunities and challenges presented within their own organisations. The Good Marketers have influence on a number of key organisational processes which generally relate to their core marketing responsibility: management of the 4 Ps. It could be argued that * The word social in the context of this discussion is used inclusively to encompass environmental (e.g. protection of the environment, sustainability of resources), ethical and in some instances, governance considerations
  5. 5. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 5 in many organisations, while marketers have control of promotion and possibly place, their influence on other elements of the marketing mix, namely, pricing and product (for instance, in terms of sourcing) can be limited. Related to the product are warranties, recall policies, after sales service, technical support, customer helplines, plain English T&Cs and so on. Sustainability (i.e. meeting present day needs without causing scarcity of resources for future generations), acceptable working conditions, avoidance of child labour and absence of harmful ingredients/components etc., are also issues that are integral to product and brand responsibility although usually not seen as integral to a marketer’s day-to-day decision- making responsibility in many organisations. The variable influence of marketing however does not preclude marketers from becoming more proactive in demonstrating a greater level of social, environmental or ethical responsibility in achieving a higher level of: i. Product quality ii. Safety and reliability iii. Consumer friendly design and packaging iv. Responsible disposal and v. Concern for vulnerable segments (e.g. physically, mentally, materially challenged consumers or children). It is ominous that in its report titled The State of CSR in Australia – Materiality: A stakeholder’s perspective, the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) found that product responsibility was the least mentioned category of material issues across stakeholder groups and industries. It is comforting though that the report goes on to indicate that the absence of comments relating to this issue could also demonstrate a general lack of understanding of the matter or the fact that the report captures the views of stakeholders mainly from the mining, energy and financial services industries where product responsibility may not be as material. The report suggests that product responsibility could be an area for future focus. The 2014 Report has just been released and we have made references to it later in the document.
  6. 6. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 6 In terms of pricing, can marketers attempt to make price structures less complicated, more transparent, allow ease of comparison with competing offerings, ensure greater consistency in price practices, provide clear explanation for any changes, and avoid unhealthy methods and more? In respect of promotion, ensuring truth and honesty in communications (without sacrificing creative licence), avoidance of embellished claims, objectivity in comparative advertising, balanced rather than stereotyped portrayal of gender roles, greater concern for children’s wellbeing, and fairness and equity in promotional contests are some of the many aspects that could be addressed. In the case of distribution, providing increased access to disadvantaged, remote or indigenous communities, equitable sharing of value across all channel players, promoting ethical competition, more cost effective logistics solutions, efficiency, trust and reliability of e- commerce channels, and commitment to fair retail practices etc., merit particular scrutiny. There are other related areas such as market research, data driven marketing, customer relationship management, social media conversations etc., where a greater degree of ethical, social, environmental or governance responsibility can be exercised to protect privacy, trust and confidentiality. The above list is only illustrative and different organisations could have unique priorities based on their industry and/or company circumstance. What this shows however is ample scope for marketers to look within rather than outwards when seeking an opportunity for responsible corporate behaviour. In other words, marketers can apply a duty of conscience test even when making day-to-day marketing decisions without waiting for changes to the law. This is more easily said than done because of potential cost impacts and uncertain dollar benefits of modifications to current practices especially in an economic environment where businesses are struggling to survive. Establishing a robust correlation between such initiatives and brand reputation as well as measuring potential flow on effects (e.g. increased market share or price advantage) should therefore be a priority for marketers and businesses. The ‘R’ in ROI tracking must link transactional metrics with transformational measures.
  7. 7. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 7 While not all of the above initiatives may fall within the definition of corporate social responsibility, they will help in building marketers’ credentials in this area and bringing about a cultural shift within organisations that can drive even more change over time. The Generous The word generous is used here in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as has been known to be practised for decades. Some CSR programs may have emanated from a sense of guilt or in an attempt to overcome any negative reputation (or potential risk of negative perception) either in the broader community or among particular environment or social activist groups. Increasingly, however, organisations are doing this out of a genuine desire to help the environment, the wider society or the community in which they operate. The actions also have the effect of creating a feel-good sentiment† among employees often leading to greater engagement and motivation levels, quality improvement and even productivity increases‡ . There are also benefits in the form of attracting superior talent, reducing training costs from lower people churn, and delivering better service. Evidence that such involvement can also enhance customer trust and company reputation that has a longer term impact on brand preference, price differential and a healthier bottom line is growing. Employees becoming more directly involved with the community, for example made possible by the organisation allowing volunteering during work time, has empirically shown to create a stronger sense of brand community. As part of their CSR charter, organisations can support a wide range of programs involving health, literacy/education, indigenous wellbeing, human rights, poverty alleviation, homelessness, women’s emancipation, discrimination against girls, youth suicide, obesity, environment protection, pollution, alternative energy, waste disposal and so on. Given that the choices are many, marketers can play a pivotal part in: a) Identifying issues that have greater resonance with customer and/or shareholder groups; and b) Optimally communicating company contributions so as to deliver tangible commercial value. † From How Virtue Creates Value for Business and Society, a survey of 238 CFOs, investment professionals and finance executives across industries and 127 corporate social responsibility and sustainability professionals and self-described socially responsible institutional investors ‡ Ibid.
  8. 8. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 8 In its 2012-13 Annual Review, the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) highlights how businesses such as Intrepid Travel (global human rights policy), NRMA Insurance (partnership with State Emergency Services for knowledge sharing and mutual benefit), National Australia Bank (corporate responsibility governance framework) and Main Roads Australia (sustainability reporting) have effectively managed their CSR activities through committed leadership at the highest level. The Galvanic We chose the word galvanic to describe this dimension because of its inherent energy to drive change and potential to generate business benefits. Creating shared value has been practised for some years, but a significant trigger for its popularity was the article with the same title by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer in the Harvard Business Review of Jan-Feb 2011. Although its proponents believe it to be fundamentally different from the concept of Fortune at the bottom of the Pyramid attributed to the late C K Prahalad, these two schools of thought have much in common. The underlying principle is the creation of value that can be shared by both the community and the organisation. This incremental value could be a result of a new technology, a renewed operating model, transfer of missing skills or infrastructure, or building additional capacity; anything that allows the organisation to add value to their business model through cost reduction, assured supply, improved quality or similar benefits. At the same time, it allows the host community to become engaged in productive income-generating activity, boost its purchasing power and improve the lifestyles of its people. In late July, 2013, AMI NSW was represented at a Round Table organised by the Poverty Alleviation and Profitability Research Group at the University of Sydney led by Dr Ranjit Voola, Associate Professor and the Group’s Director. The presentations by experts (academics, consultants and change agencies) and the discussions that followed underscored the fact that poverty alleviation is not about giving charity but building capacity where organisations leverage their business models to bring about transformational change in communities in a way that delivers mutual benefit to both parties. Among others, B4MD (Business for Millennium Development) shared the experience of Mondelez International in integrating cocoa farmers in Papua New Guinea into an ethical, economically beneficial and commercially viable supply chain. The idea of public-private partnership has assumed a new avatar with private enterprises working alongside community groups, government bodies and NGOs to jointly produce and share value, often catalysed by Not for Profit (NFP) agencies who serve as intermediaries.
  9. 9. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 9 We have come across many other examples around the world e.g. ACE Insurance, American Express, Coca Cola, Dow Chemicals, IBM, Marks & Spencer, Medtronic, Nestle, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Sumitomo, Telefonica, Thompson Reuters, Vodafone/Verizon, etc., that illustrate the same concept. However, creating shared value need not be the exclusive domain of large corporations; smaller businesses such as Seven Seeds coffee in Melbourne have also demonstrated positive results. Why should marketing take a lead? We chose the topic of marketing and social responsibility for this paper because of the nebulous nature of corporate social responsibility and the diverse opinions and perspectives that have been put forth over the years. We believe marketing can bring greater convergence to this all-important area as the concept of shared value gains momentum. More so, during times when profit pressures begin to pull organisations away from their commitment to social good. There are some who still believe in Nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman’s words in the New York Times Magazine back in September 1970: “There is one and only social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception and fraud** ”. At the other extreme, we have those who advocate the view that businesses have a fundamental responsibility to society and consider CSR as a totally virtuous activity whose purpose is diminished by any active self-promotion in the media. The corporate responsibility balance lies somewhere in the middle of absolute virtue and absolute profit and our considered view is that some degree of self-interest is a prerequisite for organisations to be continually motivated to do good while getting better. The days when companies cared about CSR only for its cosmetic PR value or marketing effect, media visibility or access to launch events etc. are long over. However, the argument that businesses need to be more actively involved because Governments alone cannot address the planet’s problems will not receive broader support unless there is the prospect of some self-interest. ** Some, like John Friedman (no relation of Milton’s) have argued in the Huffington Post that the absence of deception and fraud subsumes a responsibility to the consumer, competitor, supplier, shareholder etc. and by extension to the larger community.
  10. 10. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 10 How can marketing help? The areas we identified when dealing with the good have the potential to grow an organisation’s top line because there seems to be an emerging group of socially conscious consumers who are willing to pay more for safer, more durable, environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and ethically acceptable products and services (please see next section). For too long, businesses have focussed on improving the bottom line by cutting costs. In respect to the generous, companies usually get involved in such projects by accident. The process is more opportunistic than a pursuit of a strategic opportunity that delivers tangible good to beneficiaries and intangible value to the business. Many CSR initiatives come about as a result of a chance approach from someone known to a Board Member, a C-suite executive, or the PR/Marketing boss. Or, a beneficiary organisation may target a potential sponsor because they have the capacity to fund and not necessarily the emotional connection to its cause. If a CSR investment can resonate better with one or more of these target groups – employees, consumers and shareholders – the cumulative benefit to the organisation of such association can be significant and long lasting. Marketing can play a pivotal role in identifying areas for potential partnership as well as devise optimal ways to emotively communicate outcomes to key stakeholders. The relevance of marketing can seem more obvious when it comes to the galvanic because such social enterprise is inextricably linked to the DNA of the business. However, it is still vital for marketing to continually monitor, sense and respond to new opportunities for social initiative that have benefits for the business in the form of virgin market segments, new sources of supply, additional distribution channels or innovative operations. The case for marketing’s involvement becomes even stronger when we consider a longer term perspective. A business can only thrive if the ecosystem in which it operates continues to exist. This ecosystem goes beyond the economic system to include a range of stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, community, environment etc. Marketing is in a unique position to take an outside-in view of a business whether undertaking an environment scan, performing a SWOT analysis, envisioning alternative scenarios, reviewing the competitive landscape or monitoring consumer trends and market opinions. Marketers are also required to develop communication strategies and tactics
  11. 11. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 11 targeted at diverse stakeholders that require an insight into their values, attitudes, motivations, beliefs and behaviour. Can marketers therefore seize the opportunity to potentially elevate their involvement in CSR to a strategic contribution that defines the future of the business and possibly determines its very survival? Why is marketing able to take the lead? In researching this paper, we attempted to identify sources that could provide a relevant basis for linking marketing more closely with the social, environmental or ethical considerations that confront organisations. One of these is the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility’s Annual Review 2012-13. According to a survey†† which formed the basis of this Report, respondents considered the following companies as CSR leaders – ANZ, Interface, Marks & Spencer, National Australia Bank, Nike, Patagonia, Rio Tinto, Stockland, Unilever and Westpac. The top reason (24% of responses) for which these companies were chosen as leaders was around integrating CSR with core business activities and strategies. This included “making sustainability part of the business proposition and integrating it with products and services; having strongly embedded sustainability practices in operations and walking the talk – living and promoting CSR values”. This was followed by communication of CSR performance (19% of responses): “Responses related to companies using public relations and advertising to promote their efforts, regular updates on their progress and having a willingness to share their own story. Good performance aside, it is notable that CSR professionals deemed the act of promoting CSR values, activities and commitments a sign of leadership, rather than the proven achievement of these initiatives”. Notwithstanding that the survey captured the views of CSR professionals and not people from the broader community or a subset of consumers, and despite a likely skew towards sustainability, these findings support the potential for marketing’s role in: a) Exploring alignment between business strategy and socially responsible initiatives; and b) Leveraging communications to effectively promote social outcomes achieved. †† Online survey of 160 professionals working in sustainability and corporate responsibility roles
  12. 12. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 12 Marketing’s awareness and understanding of organisational strategy and knowledge and experience in communications with diverse stakeholders (not just customers) lend it greater competence and credibility in performing this task. Even as horrific events such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in April 2013 rekindle the responsibility debate, there has been no consistent and compelling evidence to suggest that consumers are willing to pay a premium for ethical behaviour. There has been uncertainty about the value that CSR activities deliver to the bottom line (in terms of increased sales, decreased costs, or reduced risks) despite some measured impacts on reputation leading to an indirect effect on quality perception. The tough economic conditions and growing corporate collapses may have also shifted attention somewhat from social responsibility to governance, an area that portends far greater and more immediate negative impacts because of its associated risks. Marketing has a rare opportunity to show leadership in addressing this gap. It is pleasing to see eight Australian companies sign up to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord (according to the Oxfam case study cited in the just released ACCSR 2014 Report). The Accord is an innovative multi-stakeholder initiative set up by the International Labour Organisation. More significantly, Kmart has gone beyond the requirements of this agreement by publicly disclosing the location of its supplier factories. Could marketing have been a driver of this CSR initiative? The Report also showcases Teachers Mutual Bank (TMB), a credit union turned mutual bank that has embraced sustainability as its core purpose and brand driver, fully integrating it across the bank’s strategic direction and day to day operations. This has earned Teachers Mutual Bank a coveted listing among the World’s Most Ethical Companies. The global “New Nature of Business” initiative’s ( first Report (sponsored among others by the University of Sydney Business School) provides a useful decision-making framework that can help businesses support biodiversity and ecosystem services. Are some customers willing to pay more for socially responsible products? In order to answer this question, we sifted through literature to unearth a relevant article titled ‘Global segments of socially consumers: do they exist?’ by Pat Auger, Timothy M Devinney and Jordan Louviere from the book Global challenges in Responsible Business.
  13. 13. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 13 The primary objective of the authors was to determine if a segment of socially conscious consumers (i.e. consumers willing to pay more for socially responsible products) existed and how to identify this cohort if they did. Importantly, the underlying premise of the article was that CSR activities require a better understanding of the consumer perspective with respect to social and ethical issues not merely the corporate view as this would help in more closely aligning social responsibility with bottom line benefits. The authors used data from a six country‡‡ choice experiment incorporating two product categories – AA batteries (low involvement) and athletic shoes (high involvement) and studied how trade-offs are made between functional, price and social attributes. We have excerpted here only the findings that are relevant to the subject of our discussion while providing cues on how a consumer led approach can work in implementing corporate social responsibility. In the case of shoes, the social attributes evaluated were workers’ minimum wages, working conditions, absence of child labour, and freedom to unionise. In respect of batteries, the attributes considered were use of recyclable materials, absence of mercury/cadmium, no hazardous waste and on pack disposal information. Respondents to the survey included middle class consumers represented by median groups in terms of age, income, education, and marital status to allow for better comparison across diverse economies. The learnings from this experiment are relevant to every marketer:  Socially conscious consumers (consumers willing to pay more for socially responsible products) account for nearly a third of the middle class market (important, this is not to be confused with a share of the entire market universe)  The other two segments were driven primarily by brand and price (it is not clear how a brand’s consideration and its social reputation were isolated)  Socially conscious consumers cannot be easily segmented using traditional socio- demographic variables  Individuals cannot be labelled as socially conscious across categories; the segments could differ for each category. In other words, an individual who values environmental values does not necessarily value labour issues and vice versa  Not all social attributes have equal effect on consumption; environmental attributes (e.g. mercury free) are more functional than labour attributes and therefore more salient ‡‡ USA, Germany, Spain, Turkey, India and Korea
  14. 14. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 14  Consumers are not willing to sacrifice functionality for social desirability but may not possess enough knowledge to make socially responsible choices  Cultural differences have a smaller effect on perception of consumption ethics than generally believed In the context of our discussion on marketing and social responsibility, the implications of the above analysis for marketers could be summarised thus: I. Avoid CSR strategies that are too broad or try to cover too many issues II. Focus on one single social issue (or a few at most) that are particularly important for customers and have functional relevance and emotional connection III. Research on social consciousness must not only evaluate attitudes but also measure behaviour (is the consumer willing to pay i.e. trade off other attributes) IV. Effectively communicate and educate consumers about CSR strategy in order to influence consumer purchase decisions (including packaging which appears to be a potent medium for consumer products). An approach informed by such insights can help in better aligning marketing and business imperatives with social responsibility priorities. Interestingly, the Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Citizenship, in 2013§§ found that globally, 50% of consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies, an increase of 5 percentage points from 2011. Over the same period, the Australian figures have increased from 31% to 37% (the scores are, not surprisingly, consistently lower for countries in the developed world). Notably, 43% of global consumers also claim to have actually spent more on products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. Despite the survey measuring claimed behaviour rather than metered data and being only accessible to respondents online, the findings show a growing trend towards socially responsible buying. §§ The survey was conducted during February/March 2013 and polled more than 29000 consumers with online access in 56 countries with 60%+ internet penetration and an online population of at least 10 million. The research for the article on socially conscious consumers cited above was also undertaken by Nielsen but in fewer markets using a different methodology.
  15. 15. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 15 Where to from here? Our attempt to introduce the good, generous and galvanic framework is not meant to be prescriptive in any way. Also, the three tiers are not suggested to be a hierarchy of any kind. In other words, creating shared value is not in any way superior to traditional forms of CSR or other marketing driven consumer care initiatives. While a food business could work with indigenous populations in remote communities to develop new products that potentially add a new revenue stream, not every business will have the opportunity or resources to pursue such avenues. Sonic Healthcare, an Australian business, has developed its own home grown model. The company’s venture into Africa began in a small way with its pathology lab services (a primary activity). Today, it has evolved into a broader involvement in the HEAL Africa program – helping women with a fistula condition and children affected with clubfoot, promoting primary education, setting up mobile health clinics and medical equipment servicing facilities etc. – none of which is directly connected to its core business (as in a shared value model). There are, however, spinoff benefits in the form of greater employee engagement. Our purpose in producing this paper is not merely to describe what is happening in the domain of corporate social responsibility. It is also to enthuse marketers to participate more purposefully in this activity and share their experiences where possible. The AMI urges marketers at all levels – those serving on Boards, CMOs, senior, middle level and emerging marketers, academics and doctoral students (teaching or pursuing research in related areas) – to be involved in this exchange. Contributions can come in the form of letters, emails, blog posts or group discussions on the AMI website or participation in a National or State event. Each of these singly and all of them collectively will greatly enrich the outcomes of this white paper and make it more practical and meaningful to every marketer in Australia.
  16. 16. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 16 Some of the questions we hope you will consider (not all questions may be relevant to everyone):  How do you see the state of CSR and marketing’s role within it with respect to your industry/organisation or more broadly in Australian business?  What are the opportunities, challenges and barriers to your organisation becoming more socially responsible?  What are the opportunities, challenges and barriers to marketing becoming more proactive in driving corporate social responsibility in your industry/organisation?  If not already covered above, what are the benefits and costs of actively embracing socially responsible marketing in your organisation/industry?  Are any of the approaches discussed in this paper appropriate for your business either in their current or modified form? If yes, how do you see these being applied?  What other factors such as legislative changes, tax incentives, growth in number of bridging agencies (that are able to establish relationships with community or NGOs) etc. can be helpful in promoting socially responsible behaviour?  What role can industry, business or marketing bodies such as Business Council of Australia, Chambers of Commerce, AICD, AIG, AIM, AMI, AANA, ADMA, PRIA and the Communications Council etc. perform in influencing change?  What local, regional or global CSR and related experiences (including highlights of research studies), are you able to share that could benefit others?  Any other relevant questions/issues We also invite those from the academic community to share with the AMI any past, ongoing or planned research that might help the marketing profession in Australia to assume leadership in demonstrating social responsibility. Equally, we ask institutions/initiatives in Australia and overseas e.g. Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, St. James Ethics Centre, Sustainable Brands, Effective Brands and many others to lend support to this movement whose time has come. Please post feedback on social media or the AMI blog. You may also email your comments/contributions to
  17. 17. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 17 Final word In conclusion, we would like to emphasise that social responsibility is not something organisations should take on impulsively. It should be an integral part of a business’s ethos and culture, be embedded in its DNA and embraced by its people at every level. It is equally important that organisations appreciate the social and cultural context of the communities that are the target of its attention and approach the task as an opportunity for learning as much as for giving. The label ‘CSR’ may give the impression that it is the responsibility of someone else in Corporate to do this. By taking ownership of social responsibility, marketing can become the driver of change across the organisation while communicating its benefits more effectively to internal and external audiences. It is a tough ask given everything else that we marketers are required to do today. But think of the time and effort we could save if we did not have to respond reactively to reputational damage or forced to prop up declining demand because of something we did that was socially, environmentally or ethically less desirable. Businesses should monitor progress periodically, measure both tangible and intangible, and short and long term impacts while being prepared to make any mid-course corrections. We sincerely hope that in future Australian marketers will not have to choose between profit and purpose but are able to ring in a new era where both can be optimally pursued. We end this paper with some sobering news as well as some restrained hope. The ACCSR 2014 Annual Review on The State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand reveals an increase in awareness of CSR with the focus being on environment. However, it also highlights the fact that the progress during the last decade has been slow and insufficient. The nearly 1000 CSR professionals who participated in the latest survey lament the failure of leadership in both business and government in nurturing the cause of CSR. On the other hand, respondents are optimistic that the future will bring greater collaboration with multiple stakeholders, increased accountability, a more systemic thinking and new ways of reporting. These will occur only if CSR is integrated with business strategy, secures organisation wide support, resonates with decision makers and reflects true brand purpose. Our belief is that marketing can make this happen. We at the New South Wales Council of the AMI are a mix of mainly corporate marketers, consultants and a couple of academics. While we have tried to make this paper practical and simple, the inclusion of information from diverse sources has made it longer than we hoped for. We appreciate and thank you for your time, patience and attention. July 2014
  18. 18. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 18 Credits Mahesh Enjeti FAMI CPM Fellow and NSW State Councillor, Australian Marketing Institute. Managing Director, SAI Marketing Counsel Pty Ltd Cover image © janceluch/iStock
  19. 19. The good, the generous and the galvanic | Marketing’s role in social responsibility 19 About the Australian Marketing Institute The Australian Marketing Institute ( is the peak membership body for professional marketers. Our purpose is to advance the marketing profession. Our belief is that marketing should be future focussed. It unlocks the potential in ideas, markets and businesses, expresses these possibilities and realises their value – for customers and the organisation. We ensure our members have the resources they need to fuel their abilities and put them ahead of the game. This unlocks the potential for them to create value now and lead their organisations into the future. The Australian Marketing Institute, as the voice of the marketing profession, has established strong links with business, academia and government. Membership of the Australian Marketing Institute offers you the opportunity to further your professional development through attendance at targeted training workshops, network events, conferences, seminars and access to online resources. References Auger, P, Devinney, T & Louviere, J 2010, ‘Global segments of socially conscious consumers: do they exist?’ in Smith, N, Bhattacharya, C, Vogel, D & Levine, D (eds.), Global Challenges in Responsible Business, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp135-160. Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility 2012, The State of CSR in Australia – Materiality: A stakeholder’s perspective, ACCSR, Melbourne. Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility 2013, The State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand, Annual Report 2012-13, prepared by Wright Communications, New Zealand. Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility 2014, The 10th Year – Progress and prospects for CSR in Australia and New Zealand - The State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand, Annual Review 2014, prepared by csrconnect.ed, Wright Communications and Deakin University. Bonini, S, Koller,T & Mirvis, P 2009, ‘Valuing Social Responsibility Programs’, McKinsey on Finance, no. 32, pp. 11-18.
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