Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Željka Mićić, Analytic & Development Manager McCann Belgrade
Research shows that 85 percent of people in the world believe that global brands have the power to change the world for the better. This does not mean that activism is expected from global brands only. Action is expected from every company, within their capabilities.
Starting from the global level to the microenvironment of each of us, there is so much to work on, so many things to change, improve, protect, preserve… Some things depend on us alone, and for some we need to join forces, because personal effort and enthusiasm are not enough. Sometimes even states, governments and institutions are less active, and more and more people are aware of this and do not expect too much from them. On the other hand, strong brands and companies can be drivers of change. That’s where the money is and that’s where power is concentrated. That is why consumers expect them to get involved in solving the various problems in society and making a contribution.
Gone are the days when consumers chose products only on the basis of their features. And the time when an emotional attachment to a brand was crucial is also passing. There are more and more conscious consumers for whom it’s not enough to get into their minds and hearts, but with whom we have to go a step further and get in touch with their concern for the minds and hearts of others. Brands that are perceived as ‘good’ and socially responsible therefore have greater success, because among other things, they satisfy our personal desire to ‘change the world for the better’. Perhaps we would never take action or personally do something to help a particular socially vulnerable group or to solve a social problem, but by buying the brands whose CSR activities fit into what we ourselves would like to change, we have the impression that we are doing something.
A good example is the brand Toms, which has so far donated more than 35 million pairs of new shoes to the poor around the world through their action “For every pair purchased, a pair is donated”. Or the watch brand WeWood, which enables the planting of a tree for every purchased watch. Such actions are plentiful in the world, but what about in Serbia?
Brands here are also increasingly recognizing that their contribution to the society in which they operate is necessary, and are slowly investigating the territories and activities in which they engage. Brand Rosa is a good example of how in a specific area, through coherent and sustained engagement, you can help one of the most vulnerable segments of society, and in doing so engage consumers. In fact, one dinar (€1 = 123 RSD) from every purchased bottle of Rosa water is invested in a project for the establishment of human milk banks. With the opening of these banks in three cities in Serbia, Rosa has not only given immediate help to premature babies, but it has set up a whole system that is a sort of legacy of the brand, something that will continue to live, function and help babies and their parents in the future.
Another example is the engagement of the brands Maxi and Tempo and their action “So those who don’t have, could have”, within which every day they donate surplus fruits and vegetables from their stores to food banks and so provide food for the poorest citizens of Serbia. They choose to help vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens, but in addition, they are solving the environmental problem of throwing surplus food to waste.
Education is another field of social engagement of brands, and Telekom Serbia recently launched the campaign You choose how you communicate, the goal of which is to educate users of mobile phones on how to be less exposed to radiation.
If we take a look at the overall social engagement of brands in our market, there is certainly room for more activities and for the improvement of existing ones. It would seem that most of the existing activities are rather timid and unsystematic and that they need more visibility. Perhaps brand managers fear that ‘self promotion’ will ‘soil’ the purity of their motives. I believe they are wrong – research shows that in addition to expectations for brands to be socially engaged, consumers in Serbia demand that they be authentic and transparent in that, and that in the end we see evidence of their involvement as well as the way in which we, as consumers, contributed to it. Everything is a matter of access and communication. If this is done properly, brands can contribute not only to their own image and profits, but can also become a kind of role model and over time create socially responsible consumers!
There is therefore a vast and unused space for brands in Serbia to use this type of engagement and connect with customers; to do something positive for society, but also for their brand, and to some extent to meet the needs of consumers to be socially responsible individuals. It is no longer a question of whether companies and brands should be socially engaged. That goes without saying. The question of the motives behind those actions – net profit or pure altruism – should also not be asked. The bottom line is that socially responsible behaviour leads to the betterment of society and positive changes. If the company and the brand profit along the way (and they probably will) then it’s a ‘win-win’ situation. The beauty of socially responsible activities is that everyone wins in the end!
*Source: McCann Truth Central, study ’Truth about Global Brands’