“Corporate social responsibility is the responsibility of an organisation for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviours.”Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility
Creating a compelling point of difference these days is about a lot more than just having good advertising and social media. In the past decade or so it’s been pretty much impossible not to notice that more and more brands, large and small, have used social responsibility programs as an important pillar of their overall marketing efforts. Banks. Fashion. Food providers. Manufacturers. Energy companies. You don’t have to look far to find examples. While some clearly do it a whole lot better than others, it’s something well worth considering given we live in an age where consumers have never been so empowered when it comes to information and behaviours about the brands and businesses that touch their lives.
While ‘social responsibility’ is an extremely broad area that can touch many different facets of a business, one area we’ve been especially interested in lately is the way products are packaged. In fact, we recently participated in a schools activity on the NSW South Coast specifically focussed on highlighting the very real dangers soft plastics from everyday packaging can pose to local marine life. (You can read more about our thoughts on the issue of plastics here)
Given the science around plastic packaging is pretty much indisputable these days, what a great opportunity for forward-thinking brands to make a positive statement to their customers by doing things differently?
Rather than compete solely on the functionality and price of their product(s), many visionary brands are already exploring more socially responsible practices around their packaging. While there are often challenges to be overcome, including the typically higher cost, plenty are finding ways to make it happen – and when they do it creates another compelling proposition for them that can be leveraged everywhere from their advertising, social media, PR and websites to the point of purchase.
We’re excited to say it’s something some of our clients are currently working on, such as our good friends at Enth Degree, a new high performance water sports apparel brand. Rather than just vacuum seal their garments in single-use soft plastics, they’ve made the really clever call to use re-sealable dry bags instead. The bags look great. They add value for consumers. They reduce waste for the environment. And being 100% reusable, they add a whole new dimension to the Enth Degree proposition. What a great point of difference!
Another brand riding a wave of success right now is Keep Cup. Rather than improve an existing product, they’ve used the notion of socially responsible packaging to create an entirely new one: reusable coffee cups. They’re not a client of ours, but by all reports their business is booming – and we couldn’t be happier to hear it. Especially when you consider over 500 billion disposable and non-recyclable coffee cups are manufactured globally every year. Yep, you read that correctly – 500 billion!!!
Some other businesses doing really interesting things with packaging include Method Soaps, who are actually using ocean plastic waste in their production process and Econyl who uses waste products to create a new kind of nylon to go into carpets and clothes.
Over to you…
Social responsibility initiatives like these are already a big things for many businesses and industries. In our view the opportunities (and demand for them from consumers) are only going to get bigger. So think, how might your business be able to become more socially responsible in the way it packages its products or delivers its services?