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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

Social strategy helps break through ad clutter, 14.8.07

Nova Scotia News - TheChronicleHerald.ca

Social strategy helps break through ad clutter KAREN BLOTNICKY 7:35 AM ADVERTISEMENT THERE IS a lot of advertising on the street. Consumers are subjected to literally thousands of cues on a daily basis. Advertisers are all seeking the same thing: the consumer’s attention. With so much advertising it is becoming tougher to break through the clutter.

Social strategy is an innovative business strategy that goes beyond advertising and into the heart of the business. Social strategy requires that businesses focus on the impact they have on society as a whole, with the goal of making positive contributions in a proactive and ethical way.

At first glance, social strategy sounds more like a company mission than a marketing strategy, but the two are intricately connected. Research shows that today’s consumers expect businesses to deliver the entire package: a brand that is both ecological and ethical, and that is based in a company whose primary motives are just as pure.

Today’s marketers must be more than creative minds with the ability to create a performance surrounding a product: they must be an integral part of the organization and they must play an important role in pulling together the soul of the company and its public persona.

Today’s shoppers are much more cynical than their parents and grandparents were. They do not trust most of the promotional messages that they hear. Social strategy is the key to success that helps honest firms get their point across.

A recent study of 1,200 Canadians revealed that the majority of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that are environmentally friendly: not just in their application, but also in their manufacturing. Women were more strongly inclined to support such products than were men.

Women also demonstrated stronger leanings towards social responsibility as they grew older, while men tended to remain consistent in their attitudes towards social responsibility. These are important considerations when dealing with an aging population.

The majority of both male and female shoppers were more likely to support brands that contributed something back to the community. They were also more willing to support companies that were socially responsible, and that were making real contributions to the betterment of society and community.

Women were more strongly supportive than were men and there were stronger pockets of support in different age groups. For example, 90 per cent of women between the ages of 35 and 54 years were more likely to purchase a brand that contributed to the community. These trends are important when considering that the female head of household controls most of the family budget.

Promotional messages featuring such products and firms were more likely to impact consumers. The study also indicated that support was higher among consumers who were higher educated, or had higher incomes.

Consumers appear to be linking trust and meaning to broad social activism and then equating that activism back to individual brands, and companies. The core value behind the company must be as strongly targeted and as relentlessly pursued as the personality attached to individual company brands.

The most successful brands are able to link corporate mission and motive to the values of customers in a highly impactful and transparent way.

Many of these companies are quite large, but they have grown as a result of their socially responsible core values. Examples of such firms include The Body Shop, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and Vancouver-based Vancity Credit Union.

Vancity is somewhat unusual when compared to other socially responsible firms, which tend to deal with consumer package goods. As a service provider, Vancity has the added complication of having to make a complex service easier to understand and purchase. However, Vancity has created a social strategy based on a triple bottom line based on financial, social and environmental returns.

Making core values actionable can be a challenge for some firms. Vancity makes its triple bottom line real to consumers by contributing one million dollars annually to organizations that support projects that contribute to the economy, society or community.

They also offer interest rate breaks for hybrid car loans and environmentally friendly home mortgages.

Small businesses need to seriously examine their strategy to see if a social strategy can work for them. This process must start with examining the firm’s environmental impact, and determining how social goals will resonate with customers. No firm is too small to consider a triple bottom line approach.

Finally, the business must be able to effectively communicate its social strategy, as well act on it.

Using a social strategy involves a level of commitment that goes far beyond the marketing campaign, and it is a win-win approach for the business, its customers and community.

Karen Blotnicky is president of TMC The Marketing Clinic and a professor at Mount Saint Vincent University.

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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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