The Evolution of CSR
When done right, these social initiatives give brands a competitive advantage; however, if done incorrectly, they can have the opposite effect. Consumers today want to know the values companies stand for and measurable impact–beyond brands paying lip service to causes that are important to them. In a world where consumers are increasingly demanding that companies reflect their values, corporate social responsibility has become an important business tool.
Let’s take a look at some of the more modern CSR trends that are shaping businesses today:
Brands are looking to participate in activism beyond lip service by replacing influencers with known activists. Today's consumers are more aware than ever of the impact of brands' philanthropic and charitable efforts. In order to appear more authentic and credible, businesses are using prominent activists as brand advocates. This shift gives businesses' philanthropic and charitable initiatives more gravitas in the eyes of the average consumer.
The self-care industry is increasingly shifting towards a focus on people with disablilities. This movement embraces different levels of disability and features products, tools and services in the wellness space that both cater to and enable individuals with disabilities. Disability inclusion is finally being prioritized by big-name brands and independent cosmetic companites with intuitive, user-friendly packaging that serves beauty lovers with disabilities.
CSR at the corporate level will always be a challenge: profit vs. value-based objectives. However, the gradual trend of consumers becoming more aware of their food and its origins is forcing F&B businesses to adapt. In Ethical Delivery, we’re seeing how consumers are demanding more transparency along the whole supply chain–from farm to fork–and what we can expect in the future.
This shift is especially relevant as consumers now associate healthy-eating with eco-consciousness. Ethical delivery services offer an alternative to supermarkets because they prioritize product freshness, sustainably harvested ingredients, and local sourcing.
Due to an increased interest in recycling and reusing products, there is a growing concern among consumers that luxury brands are still running their businesses in the same unsustainable manner. To counter this, designers of luxury goods are improving their practices of manufacturing by turning to recycled materials to create new items, a term commonly known as upcycling.
The number of consumers who are aware of and care about CSR is growing rapidly, and many companies are now aligning themselves closely to their customers’ values to better appeal to them. With increased competition and digital activism, consumers will likely remain critical of brands’ objectives, values, and environmental impact. If a brand can show that it operates with integrity and is able to take real action surrounding its CSR initiatives, it has the potential to inspire that trust from its target market. Today’s consumers are savvy, and they know when a company is just trying to win their loyalty by aligning itself with their values–or if those values have truly been integrated into the brands' identity in a way that has measurable impact.
For more on corporate social responsibility, check out Trend Hunter’s 2023 Trend Report.
Influencers are replaced by representatives of social change in online campaigns
The wellness industry is becoming more inclusion-focused
Designer brands try their hand at upcycling products and materials
Ethical or "clean" meat and produce boxes help support local economies