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Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) Research

A number of diverse threads have made corporate and social responsibility (CSR) a talked-about issue. These threads include scarcity of natural resources, perception of global warming, obesity in the western world, and greater awareness of such issues prompted by pressure groups and the media. Many commentators believe that for an organisation to continue to grow profitably in the future, more regard will need to be paid to the perceptions held of it by not just its shareholders, but its customers, its staff, the local community and society in general.

Some believe that attending to CSR issues ignores commercial reality and will eat into profit. But growing ethical and environmental concern can create opportunities for businesses, e.g. in investments, in travel. And CSR involves looking at issues like marketplace transparency, community involvement, respect for staff and environmental issues. Any retailer, for example, would identify its energy bills as affecting profit and its community involvement as being mutually beneficial.

What role does market research have in relation to CSR? Clearly, since the point of developing initiatives and strategy is to help the organisation build a profitable future, CSR is one part of brand-building. And research is essential to the latter, whether in researching consumer attitudes towards alternative initiatives before investment, awareness of (CRM) sponsorship, monitoring changing societal attitudes in general and attitudes towards the brand in particular.

Different has experience of research in,

  • Customer awareness of current CSR initiatives and attitudes to proposed initiatives for a major retailer
  • Staff interviews designed to source ideas for fewer procedures in the office and between locations, thus saving on paperwork, transport costs and energy bills.
  • On-going piece on segmentation of customer and non-customer base regarding CSR issues.

Clever organisations increasingly see investment in thought about CSR as good for them and good for society. Different can help develop your approach.

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