How to Integrate CSR into Your Product DNA

Conscious consumerism is growing and as customers are taking notice, it is important to integrate CSR into everything your company does.

Special Guest Speaker: JuE Wong, Global CEO of Moroccanoil

Consumer. Consumption. Consume. Feels like a dirty word in a day and age where we all feel like we would rather save. Save the planet. Save for the future.

Consumption will never come to a halt, but there has been a massive shift in recent years towards conscious consumerism. Consumers not only care about what impact brands are creating, they care about the impact corporations are making through their products.

"61% of consumers take green packaging into account when deciding where to shop." - Packsize

Some companies consider their corporate social responsibility to be an add-on to their business. Almost as a separate initiative that lives and breathes apart from what they sell. And some progressive companies are considering their impact while building, creating, and evolving their products.

On this episode of the Impact Exchange, we discuss how brands are integrating corporate social responsibility directly into their products. We spoke about this topic with JuE Wong, Global CEO of Moroccanoil in March at Shoptalk in Las Vegas and welcome her as our special guest.

About Moroccanoil

Moroccanoil has been extremely mindful of their impact through production since they started their business - over 11 years ago. Moroccanoil has a deep commitment to sustainability, including 100% of its production in Israel being solar powered. They are actually reducing their carbon footprint by saving over 890 acres of forest land from having to absorb their carbon emissions.

If you've ever seen Moroccanoil on the shelves, you'll notice they do not use secondary packaging whenever possible. This was an intentional choice, as JuE explains, even recycled paper is still using resources that are not necessary. That one decision saves around 4,000 trees a year.

CSR is truly a part of Moroccanoil's DNA, and JuE will be sharing stories and actionable tips to help support production with intention.

As JuE says, "Consumers are voting with their pocketbook".

Through our conversations with brands, we find many struggle to decide when and how to talk about their CSR initiatives. Having a commitment to social responsibility shouldn't solely be a priority to attract and retain customers.

JuE advises no matter when or why you made a commitment to being responsible, be genuine and authentic when you tell your story, so you don't seem like you are jumping on the bandwagon. And if you are not ready to tell consumers your CSR story, that's okay, with one exception - it's imperative to educate your distributors. Your distributors have the facetime with your customers to translate your story, so prioritizing their education about your product is key.

"64 percent have considered the sustainability of supply chain practices when deciding between brands." - Dotcom Distribution

Transparency that Translates

With so many brands popping up overnight, it's become easy to go to market, but what can you do to be more mindful and differentiate yourself from other brands as you're developing your product?

When JuE is faced with that question she asks the brand these questions:

  • Where are you formulating?
  • Who are you manufacturing with?
  • What is your stance on being more responsible?

Listen to the podcast to find out how those key questions can make a huge impact on how your product can become more socially aware.

Being transparent doesn't always mean explaining the wins when it comes to social impact, it can also be used to help evolve your brand without backlash.

JuE reflects back on a story of a medium-sized brand who went to social media and told their customers they had to increase their price by 7%, because they want to be more responsible to the environment. They asked their customers to rally behind them. Their customers had no problem paying more, they said go ahead, do it!

"If you give them (consumers) the compelling reason why it could make a difference, they generally won't complain. Make the effort to give them a choice, and you as a brand stand behind that choice." - JuE Wong

Behind Every Brand is a Human

Authenticity and transparency should be supported internally and externally when it comes to wins and challenges. Let people discover your brand fully, which means communicating that businesses have challenges. People are not perfect, nor are the products. Embracing your imperfections further humanizes your brand allowing your team and consumers to connect on a real level.

"89% would rather buy from a company supporting social and environmental issues over one that does not." - Cone Communication

With a talent shortage, it's imperative to not only stand for something for your customers but for yourself, your team and your future hires.

"It's easy for leadership teams and senior executives to come up with philosophies plans, but the execution of it is always the team members. They will give it their all."

Hear more about the shifts she's seen in hiring and the questions you should be prepared to answer in employee interviews, along with much, much more!

Key Takeaways

You may be thinking about your product right now feeling as though you have missed opportunities to create your product more responsibly. Or maybe this podcast has confirmed your efforts, but you want some fresh ideas to go beyond your current efforts.

Ultimately, it's your attitude and response to challenges that define your brand's ability to evolve. So we wanted to leave you with a few takeaways from JuE you can put into motion today:

  • Ask yourself whether your e-commerce consumer would be willing to have a longer lead time for delivery, for more sustainable packaging.
  • Ask your employees what they do at home to be responsible? Then, make sure to build your company kitchen responsibly by eliminating single-use plastics.
  • All brands have the power to work with vendors, suppliers, agencies who are more responsible, so choose wisely or get do some comparison shopping.

As promised, JuE gives us a few questions you should be asking your prospective suppliers. As she says, "It has to start from ideation to execution."

What materials do you use and are the materials sustainable?

What's your manufacturing process - how do you dispose of waste, do you use recycled water?

On primary packaging, do you use PPT bottles? Are you using recycled plastics?

She also recommends Viva packaging that uses PCR packaging for our new launches as we move forward in our CSR.

Post-consumer resin (PCR) is an environmentally-friendly packaging option that many manufacturers are using in support of recycling programs, consumer demand, and to reduce their impact on landfills. Micro-actions lead to micro-impact. We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Impact Exchange, until next time...

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