In our last blog, we introduced the topic of corporate social responsibility, or CSR, and why it’s essential for the textile industry to become more environmentally sustainable through effective CSR policies. As many fashion brands are learning, social responsibility is a vital part of operating a successful modern business. It’s not just simply part of an ‘add-on’ eco-friendly part of their business anymore. This is particularly true of the global textile industry. Many of the component parts of the fast fashion chain impact on environmental sustainability, human rights and the local communities where factories are based, creating many opportunities for improvement and real impact. Consumers are keener than ever to support companies who demonstrate great CSR policies at the heart of their business models. It’s a huge change in consumer behaviour, but brands who don’t embrace these ideals will quickly find that their consumers have moved on to other brands that do, taking their money elsewhere too.

Social media allows brands and consumers to share their social responsibility values

The impact of social media on the social attitudes of big fashion brands is key. Customers are constantly connected and are keen, not only feel good about their fashion purchases,  but they also want to use social media to share their behaviours, fashion finds and socially responsible attitudes too. People like to feel they’re making a difference, even through buying clothes. Recent research confirms this, highlighting that brands with a ‘purpose’ constantly outperform brands without. For fashion brands to grow and continue to be successful, a genuine, well thought out CSR strategy which is embedded across the whole of the brand’s marketing plan is essential. These values of the brand need to filter through all areas of the brand positively, and they need to be specific. Customers respond well to these positive social impact messages, rewarding the brand with greater sales, increased market share and a continued positive attitude from consumers towards their brand.

Examples of great corporate social responsibility in fashion brands

Many brands know the impact of great CSR on their bottom line, and have implemented successful values accordingly. M&S’s Plan A has proven excellent for their business model, generating increased profits and a positive impact on all areas of sustainability in their supply chain. Industry leader H&M has embraced sustainability at the core of their business model, aiming to increase awareness of sustainability in fashion. Their aim is to educate their customers and raise the profile of recycling and environmental issues, driving their CSR policies through every single part of their business model. This is evident in all areas  including design, manufacturing and advertising. Patagonia also have well developed strong corporate social responsibility policies throughout their entire brand that focus on the environmental impacts of fashion. As well as developing their products sustainably, they regularly share messages about environmental sustainability across Patagonia’s social media platforms, continually strengthening their sustainable ethos and driving home the impacts of their social responsibility policies to their customers. These brands are aware of how important it is for brands to truly embrace their CSR policies and connect with their customers while doing this, increasing both their brand image and their company profits.

Brands needs to seize the opportunity Corporate Social Responsibility offers them

CSR is no longer something that’s simply admirable for brands to have. Aside from the essential benefits to environmental sustainability, effective corporate social responsibility policies should form key parts of a fashion brand’s marketing strategy. Pressure and willingness from consumers to share their purchases and values across social media have caused a shift in consumer behaviour that marketers should seize upon. Brands that create genuine, effective and needed CSR policies now have an ideal opportunity for brands to create value driven marketing messages to share with their consumers. From a purely commercially driven business point of view, if brands want to continue to grow and maintain market share, they need to care about corporate social responsibility. The result of this, of course is a more sustainable fashion industry for the future, with reduced impacts on the environment.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable, as well as helping you to create effective corporate social responsibility measures.