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Established Supporters: Canada

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By Kristian Darigan Merenda

Canada presents a terrific example of a country in which the central government drives citizenship. Through recent progressive legislation and several environmental acts, the government there has urged both business and individuals to take responsibility in tackling critical issues.

An article in Maclean’s reported that even during the recession, companies in Canada have responded to the call. Indeed, a great number did not downsize their social responsibility initiatives and, in many cases, that pro-social stance has proven to be financially beneficial for them in the long-term. What’s more, the article states, “A Business for Social Responsibility/Globescan poll of corporate responsibility professionals taken [in 2009] found 86 percent of respondents said the reputational benefits of sustainability projects had become increasingly important in recent years. And given the number of companies whose reputations were battered by the recession, it’s no surprise now to find a few looking to cause-related initiatives to do just that.”

Our study showed that the majority of Canadian consumers are prone to taking personal action and, as a natural extension, differentiate between brands based on their citizenship activities.

  • 77% of respondents believe corporations are in a uniquely powerful position to make a positive impact on good causes
  • 74% agree that brands and consumers working together to support a good cause can do more for a good cause then either brands or consumers can do on their own
  • 74% believe that it is okay for a brand to support good causes and make money at the same time

Given this receptivity to mutual engagement, it appears both strategy and communication are key. Coca-Cola Canada presents a terrific case example of this. Its stance on social cause in the past has been to take action without necessarily building media attention. Accordingly, Coke Canada president Nikos Koumettis observed other companies benefiting reputationally where Coke had been absent. Also, he saw that Canadian consumers were “much more environmentally sensitive than other countries,” and that environmental purpose was a way to connect with these consumers. This year, Coke Canada plans to heighten its communications surrounding Coke’s PlantBottle, a completely recyclable bottle with a smaller carbon footprint.

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With a high percentage of Canadian consumers taking notice of citizenship, it is important for businesses to take the lead in appropriately informing and involving their consumers in their efforts as the marketplace becomes saturated and the relative competitive advantages today become the expected norms of tomorrow.

What might the future hold in such a progressive marketplace? What others are leading the way?

Please join the discussion and send us your ideas, questions, and links on citizenship in Canada!

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