Gain a Sustainable Advantage :: Shelton Group

“Brilliant” CSR Initiatives

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Companies can do well by doing good when their corporate social responsibility initiatives are closely tied to their core business. 

In general, most sustainability programs in the developed world revolve around trying to get people to stop wasting readily abundant resources.PassingTorch

Much of the work we do here at Shelton Group focus on trying to motivate consumers to be more energy efficient. In the U.S., we worry about making our grid more reliable and continue to incorporate cleaner, renewable options into our electric generation. But 1.6 billion people on this earth do not have access to electricity.

Two companies, Schneider Electric and Philips, have developed impressive programs to address this problem and, in the process, are quite possibly impacting sales more than you might imagine. We just learned, in our soon-to-be-released B2B Pulse study, that a good corporate social responsibility story (e.g., fair wage, working conditions, community involvement, etc.) is surprisingly important in product selection for business decision makers – rated even more important than a strong environmental track record.

Schneider Electric, which is most often thought of as a B2B company, has developed a new CSR program called “Charge the world, change the world.” In looking for a way to market their EVlink indoor charging station to electric vehicle owners, they sought the help of students from the Pi Sigma Epsilon chapter of the Farmer School of Business at Miami University. These students presented a cause-marketing campaign concept: for every EV charger sold in North America, Schneider would donate an LED light to a family that does not have access to electricity. The LED lamps are solar powered and battery operated, so they should produce reliable light for years to come.

Schneider created a video describing the campaign, which can be seen here. As an added bonus, Schneider also pledged to donate one light for every 100 views their video receives. As of the end of the year, that meant over 80 additional families received a light.

It’s a great campaign with a clear and consistent message that exemplifies their commitment to sustainability and to people.

Philips has announced a similar program to install 100 “light centers” throughout rural Africa by 2015 to give communities a place to work, play and interact safely at night. The solar powered systems, which consist of eight LED floodlights on four portable poles, are completely self-sustaining and provide enough light for kids to play soccer on a 40×20-meter field. The light centers are installed near schools, in close proximity to villages and towns that are not supplied with reliable electricity. And as Philips installs the lighting, they meet with local authorities to promote partnerships that can generate income for the community.

The light centers have not only dramatically improved the social and economic quality of life for these communities, but they’ve also demonstrated a new technology and facilitated the adoption of solar/LED lighting for sporting venues, parking lots, streets and construction sites throughout the developed world.

These two programs exemplify the idea that you can do well by doing good. Both brilliantly link the sponsors’ philanthropic activities to their core business. Plus, the programs generate both successful product case studies and evidence of corporate social responsibility – two things greatly prized by business decision makers.

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Jim Lyza

About Jim Lyza

As Shelton Group's Senior Qualitative Research Analyst, Jim designs and conducts one-on-one, business-to-business interviews for Shelton Group clients. He is a gifted secondary researcher, seeking out invaluable information for marketing planning and strategy. Trained by Burke Institute in focus group facilitation, Jim manages most of Shelton's focus group projects, from recruiting to final analysis and presentation development.

View all posts by Jim Lyza →

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