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CSR by Brands: Best for society, better for products

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It’s been three years since the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy has been implemented in India and multi-national companies (MNCs) in India have taken to it like a duck to water.
Corporate Social Responsibility refer to initiatives taken by companies to assess their effects on the environment and impact on social welfare. These efforts go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups.
Far from being a deterrent, an irritant, MNCs have smartly incorporated CSR with new products they launch, associating their merchandise with various social responsibilities.
On Friday, Dabur India Ltd, one of India’s leading FMCG companies, concluded a CSR initiative called ‘Glucose D Ab Daudega Hindustan’ to identify capable sporting talent at the grassroots and nurture them.
Dabur uses the initiative to identify deserving youth from the hinterland, who do not have the resources to get the right training facilities and coaches, and provides them with opportunities so they can realise their dream of becoming professional athletes.
Speaking on the occasion GM Marketing – Health Supplements, Dabur India Ltd, Rajeev John said, “Sports plays a very crucial role in all around development of kids, who are the face of tomorrow. Dabur Glucose D, being a ready source of energy to fight tiredness and healthy living, has a natural association with sports. Initiatives like Dabur Glucose-D Ab Daudega Hindustan will help the brand build a better connect with highly-charged, sport-loving kids across India, and further strengthen Dabur Glucose’s energetic partnership between sports and children.”
FMCG Companies & Their CSR Initiatives:
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Dabur: Being Socially Responsible
This is not the first time, Dabur has launched a CSR initiative. Earlier, it has been associated with the Brave and Beautiful Campaign (Dabur Vatika) for cancer awareness and Am Pretty Tough for (Dabur Gulabari).
Associating products with CSR is a two-way stream. It not just makes brands socially relevant, it also boosts sales.
John says, “Being a responsible corporate we think that these investments go long in terms of helping the brand.”
Dabur Vatika, the hair shampoo and hair oil brand, took everyone by surprise when its digital commercial featured a bald woman. The ad, a CSR initiative, depicts a cancer survivor who’s lost all confidence along with her hair that she lost in chemotherapy. The campaign goes on to show how her family and friends rally around her, loving her for her inner beauty.
Dabur also launched a digital campaign #AmPrettyTough for its Dabur Gulabari range. The key idea behind the initiative was to ask ‘Why should tough girls look tough?’ It was designed with the thought that the girls grow up with biases and stereotypical judgments based on their looks. So, the brand decided to motivate girls to break stereotypes based on looks, and achieve what people don’t believe they can achieve.
The 130-year-old company has been undergoing transformation to become a young, modern, and socially conscious organisation. The recent CSR activity taken by Dabur is also in tandem with the changes that the company is undergoing.
Speaking to John stated, “It is important for us to be relevant for the emerging generation. To reach out to the millennials we are trying make our brands relevant to them, communicate with them and organise activities relating to the brand that are relevant to them.”
CSR & Product Launch
Dabur is not the only MNC that is combining product launch with social awareness campaigns.
HUL has introduced various CSR initiatives which are also closely tied to its businesses – the Lifebuoy hand-washing programme aimed at personal cleanliness to keep diseases at bay, and the Pureit water purifier programme that helps get the poor access to clean drinking water- to name a few.
Other FMCG brands like ITC, Nestle, Godrej have also jumped on the bandwagon to support various social causes like woman empowerment, water conservation, health, nutrition, sanitation and environment to name a few.
“It is not a fad. It is stage of a life-cycle of a brand where you think that it is the best way to reach out to consumers and it is also one of the best ways to build your equity and respect in the consumer’s mind,” said John.
Society Matters For ITC
Inspired by the overarching vision of making a contribution to the national goals of sustainable development and inclusive growth, ITC has innovative ways of crafting unique business models that synergise long-term shareholder value creation with enhancing societal capital. This commitment is reflected when ITC measures accomplishments not only in terms of financial performance but also by the transformation he company has consciously engendered to augment the social capital of India. Two of its more recent initiatives were:
– e-Choupal: Rural digital-physical infrastructure
In 2000, harnessing the empowering force of information technology and its scalabilty, ITC launched e-Choupal – a knowledge portal providing farmers with a range of information and services. Designed to enable them to bargain collectively and enhance their transactive power, e-Choupal became the much needed and easily adoptable tool farmers had been waiting for. Today e-Choupal is a vibrant and rapidly growing zone of business and interaction for over 4 million farmers.
– Social & Farm Forestry
The program emerged in response to its challenge to source effective pulp wood from sustainable sources to enhance its competitiveness. Instead of taking easier route to importing pulp, ITC innovatively leveraged its pulpwood requirements to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to poor and tribal marginal farmers, by assisting them to convert their private wastelands into productive pulpwood plantations. High yielding, disease resistant and site specific clones are developed in ITC’s research center.
Green Environment, Clean Environment
AMUL took up the ambitious plan to save the environment by planting trees, making India green and thereby reducing the effects of global warming.
The milk producers of Gujarat Dairy Cooperatives are conducting mass tree plantation drive every year on Independence Day for last nine years. In the last nine years (2007 to 2015) the milk producers have planted around 592.1 lakhs trees.
Woman Is Equal To Man
Benetton India recently started a #UnitedByDonts party, a campaign aimed at safety and empowerment of Indian women.
The campaign, which was organised by the United Colors of Benetton in April, promotes gender equality and women’s safety as the priority for India. Benetton is also executing key elements of its global sustainability roadmap, the Women Empowerment Program, a long-term sustainability program aimed at supporting the empowerment of women worldwide eventually.
India is known for imposing ‘don’ts’ on women in an attempt to keep them safe. Benetton has initiated this first of its kind campaign in India, to fight these ‘don’ts’, which have become an impediment in the growth of women in the country.
CSR Ideology & Store Design
Being Human is a clothing line with a heart and supports the twin causes of education and health care initiatives of Being Human – The Salman Khan Foundation. Each store of Being Human carries the 6 DNAs – love, care, share, help, hope and joy – that defines the brand.
The fashion brand has also tied up with Fortis Hospital where children between the age group below 5 years get 50 per cent sponsorship from the Being Human Foundation and 50 per cent by Fortis Hospital for heart surgeries.
CSR Expenditure
The CSR rules, came into force on April 1, 2014 under the Companies Act 2013 and according to the rules, companies with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or more or revenue of at least Rs 1,000 crore or a net profit of Rs 5 crore in a given fiscal year should spend 2 per cent of the profit of the last three years on CSR activities.
Most of the companies try to meet the 2 per cent mandate and at times don’t hesitate to spend a few more lakhs than needed. Here is the rundown of CSR expenditure of major FMCG players for FY15:-

  • ITC – Rs 214.06 crore
  • Godrej – Rs 16.08 crore
  • HUL – Rs 82.3 crore
  • Dabur – Rs 14.71 crore
  • Emami -Rs 7.6 crore
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