The Other CSR

Consumers often say they want to be socially responsible when it comes to buying food, clothing, office supplies, and the like. But consumers’ noble sentiments are not often reflected in their actions at the checkout. In fact, a number of corporations have seen their efforts to sell socially responsible products fall flat because consumers failed to buy them in any significant numbers. There are, however, a variety of strategies that corporations can take to increase their odds of success.

In January of this year, one of the most high-powered attempts ever undertaken to stitch together consumer shopping with social responsibility was launched. The effort – dubbed Product Red – was unveiled at the annual gathering of the rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by no less than U2’s Bono.

The idea behind Product Red is simple – line up major international consumer brands like Gap, Giorgio Armani, and American Express, and get them to donate a portion of...

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