Marketing’s Role in Corporate Strategy & CSR
Marketing and marketers play an important part in the development of corporate strategy and in the responding to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda. Indeed from a sustainability perspective, the boundaries between what was traditionally considered to be “corporate” strategy and “marketing” strategy become blurred. This is because conventional marketing theory views the customer as being interested in the marketing mix of the company (the product, its price, its availability, how it is promoted and customer service) but in little else about it. Sustainability concerns have demonstrated that the customer can also be influenced by the company behind the products and brands they buy. The social and environmental impacts of production processes, and the degree of social responsibility with which companies treat their workers, invest their money and conduct their affairs are now all potentially significant on both the marketing and corporate agenda.
CSR has been one of the key themes of the new Millennium and involves companies operating their businesses in ways that meet their stakeholders’ expectations about economic, legal, ethical and environmental and social performance. It has led to a renewed focus on the idea of “corporate brands”, and research shows that people are more likely to buy and rate the products from a company that they perceive as having a good reputation. Marketing plays a very important part in delivering CSR and building corporate brands, particularly through :
- Products : through issues such as product safety;
- Advertising and promotion : which needs to be appropriately targeted, accurate and culturally acceptable;
- Pricing : which needs to deliver affordability and value as well as profits;
- Selling : which needs to avoid perceptions of mis-selling pressurising customers;
- Distribution : which needs to ensure fair access to products and services, particularly of life’s necessities;
- Customer service : which needs to be effective in resolving disputes.
Many proponents of CSR point to the “Win-Win” nature of CSR activities where investing in improvements in social or environmental performance also yields competitive advantage and economic benefits. There are many anecdotal examples of such “”Win-Win” outcomes, but in practice many of the benefits of responsible marketing and responsible business practice come in the form of risk minimisation and the avoidance of cost or competitive disadvantage. Very often the responsibilities of marketers in terms of responding to social and environmental issues, and also in terms of their responsibilities towards customers, are proscribed by law (For a short summary of the key legal responsibilities of marketers click here). However, staying within the law is only a first step in delivering responsible and more sustainable marketing.
The site provides a range of business sustainability information.
A variety of CSR news, information and links are provided on the site.
Information on Social Accountability International (SAI) and the SA8000 standard
The sie provides details on the EC strategy paper on CSR (July 2002).
The site highlights a range of information on business sustainability issues.
Information on ethical business principles.
Provides background information on the UN Global Compact
Provides information on the Global Sullivan Principles
Background information on the Coalition for Environmental Responsible Economies, (CERES)
WRI is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives.
A range of information related to sustainability management systems including 'state of the art' research.
Useful information on the business case for sustainability.
Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) is a global nonprofit organisation that helps companies achieve commercial success in ways that respect ethical values, people, communities and the environment.
European business network for CSR including “A European Roadmap for Businesses: Towards Sustainable and Competitive Enterprise”
Publishes Boycott Action News, listings of current corporate boycotts.
A paper highlighting five simple lessons for approaching green marketing decisions. Corporate Environmental Strategy, Autumn 1998.
An article that discusses that it is not enough to just "be green"; consumers demand a commitment to sustainability throughout a company's operations. Communicating environmental initiatives wisely can help companies "be seen to be green."
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a coalition of 150 international companies on the achievement of sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.
GEMI provides a range of information on achieving EHS excellence, economic success, and corporate citizenship.
Set up in 1998 to provide a reference on the business case, best practice and measurement methodologies and encompassing all aspects of corporate social responsibility.
The Green Business letter is the leading information source for companies, associations, universities, and others striving to integrate environmental thinking throughout their organisations in profitable ways.
Corporate critic is a database containing information on the behaviour of over 30,000 companies.
Global guide to business and sustainable development from the IISD
Includes research on a number of issues including governance and the business case for SD.