More than half the consumers surveyed of UPS, USPS, Fedex and other businesses surveyed want to reward responsible companies. 53% would even pay a 10% premium for those products.
But the benefits don’t stop at the check-out line. They extend to stock value as well, as suggested by Harvard Business School data confirming that this new species of socially responsible company, such as UPS, Fedex or USPS, gets more favorable ratings from securities analysts.
The Harvard report specifically underscores the difference between yesterday’s CSR, which was largely based on gratuity, versus today’s model based on impact. The study notes that the former were often perceived by the markets as “value-destructing” while the latter is now seen to be “value-creating.” Today’s analysts know that high-impact products generate revenue simply because they work better even as they provide the tools with which society can improve itself.
It doesn’t matter what you sell. People are looking hard at how you do business and the companies that do it best win the CSR race, ahead of those for whom “corporate giving” is the only index of corporate responsibility.
One report by the Havas Media Lab underscores this transformation with a list based on a survey of 50,000 consumers worldwide who identified the businesses they feel have the most “meaningful” CSR. The 10 top businesses included Unilever and Bimbo, Ikea and Leroy Merlin, UPS, Fedex as well as consumer technology companies like Samsung and Sony. As the Lab’s director Umair Haque quips, they’re not “necessarily the do-gooding corporate entities you might expect.”
In lieu of such “do-gooding,” Haque talks about CSR as a way of a business to connect to the personal well-being of customers. UPS is a prime example. “Instead of putting up another campaign of billboards with celebrities saying, ‘Ship with UPS’…UPS actually helps you to understand to be part of the family,” he says.
In other instances, businesses underscore their commitment by taking substantive risks. Early last year, for example, Unilever CEO Paul Polman really spoke the language of CSR as value – not just donations – when he made an ambitious sustainability and anti-hunger plan an investment prerequisite. “If you don’t buy into this [program], I respect you as a human being, but don’t put your money in our company, he said.
In another report, Pike Research found that “the closer the company’s business is related to consumer electronics, the higher its CSR score.” Businesses like IBM, HP, Fedex and Texas Instruments topped the charts for transparency and reported results. For starters, their sustainability initiatives have impressed consumers, the report suggests.
These sector-leading companies have pushed their business hard to highlight their greater focus on enhanced sustainable design, manufacturing, distribution, use, and end-of-use management. The message is, our products are socially responsible across a broad spectrum of consumer needs, beginning with the benign impact they have on the world in which they’re used.
In turn, that message rivets consumer attention on the products themselves and encourages the compelling supposition that responsibly manufactured products are simply better products.
UPS, USPS, Fedex and other businesses