4 Reasons retailers & brands all embrace CSR

Nowadays, everybody who is working at every position in importers, brands and retail companies already heard about Company Social Rresponsability (CSR or sustainability). That was generally not the case 10 years ago, when CSR was more a subject for marketing and communication departments than for sourcing and buying people. Before we could hear from the buying offices in Asia that ‘’those CSR people in Europe or North America are dreamers and CSR and buying targets cannot be reached together’’. Today, more and more brands and retailers bring CSR in the hearth of their sourcing strategy, and even more in the hearth of their corporate strategy to make their business growth … sustainable.

 

Actually CSR bring positive impulse to business organization through:

 

1/ Innovation

Even if it’s an over-used term, that’s reality. There are many examples in the textile & fashion industry, that shows that CSR push the industry to innovation. I will only quote two of them: water free dyeing solutions and garments recycling.

As you may know the textile industry is a big water consumer (2000 liters for a T Shirt and 10000 for a pair of jeans, from the cotton field to the shop). On the chain, the dyeing process use as well a lot of water. I recently attended a presentation of a Dutch company named DyeCoo who is using CO2 Dyeing process which bring the water consumption for the dyeing process to Zero.

            Innovation doesn’t come only from the industrial process but as well from the brands and retailers with Bio & recycled products for instance. The Happy Chic Group created La Gentle Factory, a menswear brand which provide clothes exclusively made from Biological & recycled fabric.

 

2/ Cost savings & Long term thinking

Indeed, CSR is not only costly auditing and assessment campaigns of your vendors for reporting purposes, but it is also trainings and capacity building programs which bring more efficiency in your vendor base. The major retailers implement ambitious programs which cover different issues such as Human right, energy savings, environmental compliance, quality, production efficiency, that are now widely recognized as a good practice in order to avoid the shift from one factory to another, season after season, in order to get the 10cents discount on you T Shirt order.

 

3/ Brand (non) differentiation

In the past, brand differentiation was one of the primary reasons companies embraced CSR. Now I would say that many companies are starting CSR programs in order to be conform with the general trend of their industry without any real convictions or philanthropic mindset. That said, we have to recognize that CSR is a very wide subject, especially when you are engaged with Asian suppliers, and you have to choose where to focus on. First you have to comply with the major issues such as Human rights; for this you can choose to be member of a wider initiative/program/NGO such as ICS, BSCI, Sedex, Fair Wear Foundation…

As soon as this” minimum” has been done, if you want to use CSR as a brand differentiation tool, then you have to focus on other issues such as environment and wastewater management among your suppliers for example, by doing audits or assessments of their understanding of these issues.

 

4/ Engagement of people: customers and employees.

What’s the point of doing CSR if no one knows about it? Walmart, for instance, made already in 2008 an ad campaign designated to raise awareness on environmental issues among the consumers. Since the message is about something “good,” it can often be an easier way to talk to your customers.

It works as well for employees. If the company care about ‘’good’’ things and not only about the next quarter results, then everybody is involved in the achievement of the targets… CSR bring sense to business growth and profitability.

 

Contact us and book your next social or environmental audit with AQM.