Recognising the importance of CSR not only for social development but also as an effective communication tool to strengthen the perception of brands, Lowe Lintas India conducted a CSR survey. The survey, which is the first on consumer attitudes towards CSR in India, was conducted by MSN India and international research agency Cross-Tab Pvt Ltd.
The study, which covered over 2,000 respondents primarily from Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, was the first step towards effectively understanding the role that a CSR initiative can employ to benefit both society and the company.
Sabyasachi Mishra, Chief Growth Officer, Lowe Lintas India, stated, “CSR can be a real force as a strategic and competitive branding tool among consumers – and it offers great leverage in building authentic communication platforms for brands. As an agency we have explored this opportunity quite successfully for some of our clients and we continue to improve our domain understanding and know-how in order to advise clients better. This piece has been a unique collaboration between Microsoft, Cross-Tab and Lowe Lintas in that journey.”
Kartikeya Kompella, Vice President, Lowe Lintas India, said, “The survey shows that many consumers want a change in the way people in society behave. Hence they see a huge role for CSR that works towards changing attitudes / behaviour. This points a clear direction for marketers to focus their CSR efforts. The finding that consumers consider it acceptable for brands to use social initiatives for marketing gives marketers the license to do CSR to promote their brands, thereby making it a win-win for business and society.”
CSR is no longer nice to do but a must do – 93 per cent of the respondents said that they believe corporates must do CSR. When asked what CSR meant, 61per cent of the respondents opined that CSR is about a company's role in/ or responsibility towards the society in which they operate. Respondents felt that companies should give back to the community to compensate for their use of social resources. Importantly, respondents felt that companies needed to use social resources sustainably so that future generations too could use these resources.
CSR is about reputation building. When asked why corporates do CSR, 65 per cent of the respondents felt that the main motivation for corporates to do CSR was to build their reputation. 22 per cent stated that CSR was undertaken to help corporates market their products better. Only 25 per cent believed that CSR was done because corporates believe in it.
CSR helps brands build trust, 57 per cent of respondents trusted brands that do CSR more than brands that don’t.
CSR helps build preference: In a situation where all things are equal, respondents prefer companies that do CSR to those that don’t.
Consumers see CSR as an acceptable marketing tool – 58 per cent of the respondents felt that it is acceptable for companies to use social initiatives for marketing.
The study also revealed that consumers are willing to support social initiatives by proxy; 56 per cent of the respondents felt that supporting a brand that does CSR is as good as being socially responsible themselves.
When asked to rank causes on levels of importance, Education (63 per cent) and Environment (60 per cent) were the two most highly rated causes. These are indicative of the interests in topics that cause fundamental, widespread change.
It’s not just about being philanthropic, consumers quite clearly see a larger role for companies in the society – When asked to suggest the best form of support a corporate can give a cause, the answers primarily favoured programmes that change peoples’ behaviour (44 per cent) followed by building awareness of social problems (22 per cent). Donating money and volunteering employees’ time did not get much support with scores of 10 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively.
Brands that have made a mark through their CSR activities were Wipro’s Azim Premji Foundation, Infosys, Tata Tea – Jaago Re, Tata Steel and The Times of India for the Teach India initiative.
Commenting on the survey, Sanjay Trehan, Head - MSN India, Microsoft India Pvt Ltd, said, “MSN India is one of the leading online destinations for rich content and a socially integrated experience, thereby making it a very powerful medium for brands to connect with their audiences. This survey has thrown up interesting insights into how people’s view of CSR is evolving and it is being viewed as a must-do for corporates as well as the larger economy. I am sure that companies will see immense value in these findings as they plan and prioritize their CSR efforts.”
Kumar Mehta, CEO, Cross-Tab Marketing Services Pvt. Ltd. said, “Online Research is increasingly gaining popularity as a quick and efficient medium to collect people’s views on varied subjects and are widely used by large corporates worldwide. This survey is a good example of how useful information can be gathered easily and used for public good. I sincerely hope that these insightful and robust survey findings will encourage more companies to look at CSR positively and give them direction in their efforts.”