The Ever-evolving Landscape of CSR in Branding

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has taken hold and with every year that passes, the bar is raised. That’s ok. It all helps fuel a better world anyway. But if you want to be sure you are keeping up, stay with us as we reveal the current terrain of CSR in branding and customer loyalty.

Faux Corporate Social Responsibility

It turns out the general public can smell faux CSR a mile away. Campaigns alone are no longer enough. American consumers want to see proof of successful endeavors that yield real results. That can be challenging for anyone, even large organizations.

Younger generations are demanding genuineness and conscientiousness moving forward—especially from corporations. When it comes to CSR campaigns, the public needs proof of productivity before they support that brand, much less recommend it to others.

The Porter Novelli 2022 Report, People Push for Real Purpose over ‘Posturing and Politics’ reveals how imperative it is to an organization’s success to prove that its CSR campaigns are impactful. It isn’t enough to initiate a campaign, broadcast via marketing outlets, and hope for the best. Americans want to know that these organizations are facilitating positive change. What are the results?

One of the reasons is that it makes consumers feel like they are being more environmentally conscious by buying from those businesses. It’s as much about the individual feeling socially and environmentally responsible as it is about the impact on society at large. 


Environmentalism remains the main focus for consumers across the board. One positive thing about the COVID lockdown is—it gave folks time to pause and think. People could read those articles they never had time for before. They could also reflect on how they would do things differently when the world opened back up. That time and contemplation allowed many Americans to reanalyze their actions and how they could make better choices moving forward. It has influenced how we do business and our decision-making process.

David Bentley, Global CEO of Porter Novelli, commented on the report findings: “Good intentions aren’t enough. Consumers are tired of talk: they don’t want to see campaigns; they want to see action. Companies are realizing the benefits of doing business better as all audiences’ demand integrity and business growth will depend on navigating the complex landscape of audience expectations.”

There isn’t a quick and easy formula to initiate brand loyalty via CSR. True social and environmental change must follow if organizations want to ensure customer devotion long-term. The 2022 Porter Novelli Report revealed two key points on consumers' behaviors regarding CSR of environmentalism. The first is that 78% of those polled feel companies should have a point of view on environmental sustainability. The second key point is that 35% of that group would start or increase purchasing from a company if it shares a point of view on environmental sustainability that is aligned with the consumer’s view. In this respect giving voice to a stance does make a difference.

The Demand for Operational D&I

Additional polling divulged that social inequality is second in priority for businesses to address, with operational changes expected. We may see that training courses aren’t enough if true progress isn’t achieved for minorities in the workplace. Moving forward, how that is measured may be up to the consumer as much as the employer.

According to the Porter Novelli report businesses can anticipate:

•    32% of consumers will start or increase purchasing from companies that change the way they operate to address diversity and inclusion
•    29% of consumers will recommend companies change the way they operate to address diversity and inclusion to friends, family and acquaintances

Increasing your revenue and brand awareness by approximately one-third of consumers is worth the CSR effort. Otherwise, this response would require an immense marketing budget and years of campaigns. Is it possible that CSR may be one of the most straightforward strategies to ensure future profits for generations to come? It certainly can’t be ignored.

The Power of Effective CSR

Porter Novelli’s 2022 Reputation Report also showed significant correlations between a company’s “Purpose score” and consumers’ spending behavior and attitude towards that company. This definition of Purpose in this report includes genuine efforts to address social and environmental issues. 

•    71% correlation between Purpose and consumer willingness to try new products 
•    71% correlation between Purpose and consumer willingness to switch to a Purpose-led company’s products 
•    68% correlation between Purpose and consumer willingness to forgive a company for its missteps

The bottom line is that consumers expect organizations, big or small, to take a stand socially. When they fail to do so, it communicates to the public that the company is more about the bottom line than being a pillar of society. This may lead to a distrust that can grossly affect profits.

One thing is certain, CSR is here to stay and growing stronger every day. If organizations want to be successful long-term, facilitating corporate social responsibility must be a part of their business plan. And using marketing to educate the public about your efforts is just one part of the process.

Public media is an ideal outlet for CSR marketing campaigns. The audience is made up of civic-minded, socially responsible individuals who respect corporate sponsorship. 

NPR listeners are:

•    76% more likely to trust sponsorship organizations
•    72% more likely to be loyal to that company
•    78% are more likely to remember a company with a strong purpose
•    71% claim they will purchase from a purpose-driven company rather than an alternative

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about promoting your CSR campaign to a socially conscious audience. We are also here to guide you through any possible marketing campaign that can ensure future success including recruiting, brand awareness and events. 

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