Julie Almendral (MBA ‘12) attended a recent talk on corporate responsibility at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business. This is her firsthand account of the lecture, conducted by David Robertson.
On Tuesday afternoon, David Robertson led a conversation on leveraging corporate social responsibility to drive sales. Robertson is an adjunct professor in the Wake Forest University Schools of Business and the director of marketing for Hanesbrands Inc.
To start, Robertson pointed out that the word “responsibility” is an odd word to use in “corporate responsibility” because it sounds like a burden. If done right, however, corporate responsibility can truly add value. If companies take a longer term view over immediate gratification, this can be a tool to differentiate them in the marketplace and can provide revenue-growing opportunities.
Robertson illustrated examples of successful initiatives: the cause-marketing efforts of Tide Loads of Hope and Pepsi Refresh, and the sustainability endeavors of Hanes EcoSmart and Clorox GreenWorks.
The most successful, cause-marketing initiatives are built on a brand’s core benefit, such as Tide’s Loads of Hope. That initiative sends out trucks loaded with washers and dryers to disaster-stricken areas, ad has the capacity to wash up to 9,000 loads of laundry every day. Here, Tide leverages what they stand for—clean laundry—to provide an essential service to people in need.
Successful initiatives also tie in a retail component, which not only drives sales, but also gets the consumer involved. Using the Loads of Hope example, Tide sold specially marked Tide containers and donated a $1.00 from each sale to disaster relief.
In addition to linking a cause to your brand purpose and involving retail customers, other key components of a success corporate responsibility initiative are making the cause meaningful to the consumers, transparency, a long-term perspective, and creating something that employees can engage in as well. These key takeaways not only increase your chance of being responsible, but more importantly, create value for your customers and shareholders.
This talk was hosted by the Schools of Business Net Impact Chapter and the Graduate Marketing Association. Net Impact hopes to host more future discussions to supplement the classroom experience. If you have an idea, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.