Are companies facing a looming  crisis?

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A major new report, Talking the Walk, has recently launched with some damning insights around an increase in consumer discontentment with perceived corporate greed. The report by Cavill & Co suggests that 55 per cent of Australians believe brands spend money on ‘social good’ advertising but do not actually care about the outcomes.

Written by the Founder of Cavill & Co, Hailey Cavill, and her team, the report is encouraging corporate Australia to listen to what consumers want and change the way they approach and communicate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and social good.

“We are seeing the level of consumer scepticism rise. Almost 50 per cent of Australian consumers think brands just spend millions of dollars on advertising telling us about CSR whilst providing no proof of this or the benefits,” Haylie said.

The alarming results show that 66 per cent of people agreed with the statement ‘in general all they (companies) do is care about profit and they’ll do anything to get it, even damaging society and the environment in the process.

A positive outcome is that one in four people are still open to being persuaded that companies can do good, and in particular the younger generation appear more open to this.

The report also provided an insight into what business leaders could do to evoke more trust from consumers. The top answer was share personal values, followed by share obstacles they have overcome and share personal success stories.

One in six people agreed with the following statement ‘in the last year I have switched from my usual product/service to another because of their support of a charity.’  Again it is the younger generation that is switching the most, with a quarter of this group agreeing with the statement.

Other interesting outcomes include:

  • 40 per cent of Australian employees will talk about CSR if they see CEOs are visibly involved
  • Only 18 per cent of Australians trust CEOs to speak on CSR
  • 34 per cent of Australians trust company website for CSR information.

In launching the report, Haylie summarised the results and important lessons to businesses including:

  • Most companies fail to communicate CSR and social good so that it resonates with consumers. We are wasting a lot of time and money as well as the opportunity to differentiate, engage, inspire and motivate.
  • Effective communication makes a difference between CSR being dismissed as a warm gesture to being embraced as an investment that provides a competitive advantage.
  • A wave of scandals and unethical behaviour has led to widespread mistrust of corporates.
  • Even those working within the corporate sector don’t trust corporates to the right thing.
  • Consumers are much savvier about marketing tricks and there are numerous platforms both on television and online to express disappointment and outrage.
  • Corporates can change their role in society – going beyond just doing no wrong to doing what’s right.

A full copy of the report ‘Talking the Walk – the definitive guide to communicating corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social good’ can be purchased via www.cavill.com.au/shop for $238.00 per copy.  This book also includes a comprehensive guide on how companies can better communicate their CSR initiatives.