Is CSR A Helpful Tool?

This is part II (of a three-part) article on the how a CSR based planning can develop a sustainable business strategy. Part I can be viewed here.

CSR Centric Planning

In part I (of this series) we looked into the effectiveness of a CSR based business strategy. In this article, we’re looking at how a CSR based business strategy can bring about a strong brand identity.

In today’s changed economic scenario and social media connected world, more and more businesses are getting aware of the enormous power of “connected consumers”. The growth and high usage of various social media platforms (professional and personal) have given rise to, interest based, on-line communities. Communities that hold a strong ‘recommendation/influencer’ power over its members. Trust in the recommendations of a fellow group member goes a long, long way than the advertising and traditional marketing communications of a brand.

Is this an opportunity?

For organisations and entreprenuers looking at the global Muslim segment as the primary consumer group does this consumer trend provide an opportunity?

The global Muslim segment is huge, numerically. But when the income and purchasing power filter is used, the concentration comes into perspective across certain markets. But the beauty of it is that these “able-to-afford” the price groups are talking amongst themselves on various brands, recommending, spreading through word-of mouth, the reputation of the brand or killing it.

Have brands, targeted to the Muslim consumer segment, used a CSR approach to grow themselves?
Or is it foolhardy to do so, as the returns would not be visible in day 1 but possibly in day 10.

Across categories globally, brands targeting the Muslim community segment,  can benefit from using a CSR based strategic approach in order:

  1. To protect brand value and deliver brand promise.
  2. And to obtain engagement.

But the catch lies in identifying the CSR platform that would allow to clearly portray benefits both to the consumer and to the society (as a whole) and not appear as a “lip-service”.

A McKinsey article titled “Making the most of Corporate Social Responsibility” highlights how many companies are now seeing CSR as an opportunity to strengthen their business.

In crafting a CSR based strategic direction  its critical to ensure that the social program is a clearly visible (and felt) beneficial one. One of the important component of a viable CSR plan is the implementation plan. The on-ground plan has to be robust, with clearly identified ‘quick-wins’ (in order to allow communications to take place in a planned manner) that delivers on the program objectives.

A brand that truly does develop and implement this, in the long run will, undoubtedly reap the benefits of committed engagement. In turn this would bring about a strong, trusted relationship between the brand and its customers.

For capitalising on the growth opportunity that the global Muslim segment presents, businesses operating in it, and evaluating to come in, using a CSR based business strategy planning would enable sustainability. scalability and competitiveness in the long run.