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How to Use Sustainability and Social Justice to Attract Customers

By Garrett Spence   |    March 6, 2017   |    11:36 AM

Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility: A Way to Grow Your Business

Consumers are becoming more and more informed about sustainability and other social issues, and as a result they want to feel good about where they’re spending their hard earned money.

It’s a concept that’s also known as corporate social responsibility, and it means that you can support the issues you care about while simultaneously growing your business and attracting more customers. Here’s how you can get the best of both worlds.

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility, often abbreviated CSR, refers to a business’s practices that benefit society and the environment.

These initiatives and practices can take on virtually any form. Some businesses donate a portion of their profits to causes they care about. Others encourage employees to volunteer their time. You can be as creative as you like with your own CSR activities.

Why sustainability and social justice attract customers

These types of initiatives are appealing to your customers for a number of reasons.

First, many of the purchasing decisions that people make are based on emotion (and not logic, though we like to think our choices are purely logic-based). Consumers purchase goods and services with their emotions, which is why marketing initiatives that point to the things your company is doing to better the world can drive sales so effectively.

Many people also feel helpless to make a meaningful change in the world. The problems we face, like climate change, poverty, and more, feel impossible to fix. By doing business with a company that emphasizes social responsibility your customers can feel like they’re part of a larger group striving to enact change.  

How your business can get started with CSR

The hardest part of implementing a robust corporate social responsibility program might just be choosing what to do. Here are some initiatives you might consider:

  • Using only sustainable materials in your packaging.

  • Donating portions of your profits to a nonprofit or other cause.

  • If a current news event or hot-button topic is relevant to your business, you can use those events as inspiration. For example, this water systems company used the Flint water crisis and drought in California to bring attention to the issue while offering a solution for consumers.

  • Sponsoring company-wide volunteering events for employees to participate in, or giving employees a certain number of hours off per year to volunteer.

  • Donating supplies to local charities.

  • Using your marketing campaigns to draw attention to an issue. Brands like Chipotle have done this with great success. The company’s “The Scarecrow” campaign used “awareness as entertainment” to highlight the importance of sustainable farming.

Creating a corporate social responsibility plan for your business

You may even want to create and publish your own Corporate Social Responsibility Policy. Having a document like this will let your employees and the public know exactly what your business is doing to become sustainable and advocate for social justice.

Don’t hesitate to let your employees and customers have a say in the cause you support, either. Find out what’s important to them and use that information as inspiration.

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