As more companies begin to integrate corporate social responsibility as a way of striving for consistent, sustainable business ethics versus seeing it as risk mitigation, purchasing power is making its way to the hands of the people — everyday consumers who can be parr-time activists. As advocates of tools that empower individuals to make informed decisions about the items they buy, The Toolbox team full-heartedly concurs with TriplePundit's list of top 10 CSR trends of 2013, which came out on December 18. In fact, we selected the Buycott app and the Slavery Footprint app , which are both highlighted in the TriplePundit post, as two of our favorite tools to use during the holidays.
The content below was originally published at TriplePundit and written by Alison DaSilva.
From the massive Bangladesh fire and factory collapse, to the horse meat scandal and ongoing international natural disasters, 2013 was a year of new issues, challenges and opportunities within CSR. Companies and consumers alike were bold, even brazen, in their approaches to accelerating positive change. This year was marked by continued digital innovation, audacious goals, new industry support and unexpected partnerships.
Cone Communications has simplified its years’ worth of CSR tracking to share the top 10 trends of 2013:
- The Empowered Purchaser: 2013 brought a slew of new apps focused on empowering consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions. Consumers can now discover how many slaves worked to produce a product via the Slavery Footprint app, or scan a barcode with the Buycott app to quickly tell if a brand’s values align with their own. Shoppers are now increasingly armed with the information and tools to signal their approval of, or opposition to, specific business practices.
- Guerilla (Cause) Marketing: Companies used daring, “in-your-face” marketing to bring awareness to important issues. Unilever’s Lifebuoy brand printed a hand-washing message on 2.5 million rotis (bread eaten with the hands) during the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela to inspire behavior change and prevent disease. And a Whole Foods Market in Providence, RI removed 52 percent of all its produce from store shelves to show shoppers the implications if the endangered bee population died off. Although these efforts may seem aggressive, there is no question each company made a lasting impression with its social message.
- Supply Chain Gain: Following the Bangladesh factory collapse last April, the supply chains of nearly every manufacturer and retailer were scrutinized. Several companies proactively led new improvements and innovations. Levi’s responded with the Dockers Wellthread clothing line, which will be produced exclusively at its Improving Worker Well-Being pilot sites. H&M recently announced it will become the sole customer of three factories to gain better control of working conditions and also promised “living wages” to all textile workers by 2018.
- “Add to Cart” for Good: Online retailers of all shapes and sizes responded with gusto to the growing demand for socially conscious consumption. Though a little late to the cause marketing table, Amazon made a huge splash with its recently launched Amazon Smile website, which activates a 0.5 percent charitable donation every time consumers shop. This year also cemented a rising trend of new online retailers focused on positive impact including Zady, Sevenly and Able Made, among others.
- Brick and Mortar Gets a Makeover: Brick and mortar companies addressed sustainability from the ground up with bold environmental goals in 2013. Walgreens and Sainsbury’s have both made major sustainable buildings commitments with net-zero and water neutral stores, respectively. Nike took building innovation to new levels when it announced a new store made entirely of recycled materials. The facility is also made without glue, making it easier to re-recycle at end-of-life.