Why do CSR and the alcohol industry seem to be incompatible? Corporate social responsibility is a form of corporate self-regulation by which companies take into account the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers and all the members of the public sphere. But how is it possible to include public interest into corporate decision-making in the alcohol industry? * What does Corporate Social responsibility mean? Corporate Social Responsibility is about how companies manage the business processes to build an overall positive impact on society.
According to “Making Good Business Sense” by Lord Holme and Richard Watts and published by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, “Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”. If the other aspects of corporate social responsibility are about doing what you do right, then the marketplace issues are about doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing can be the single most important aspect of the business of a company in terms of securing its longer-term viability. In this perspective, companies have to evaluate the costs they impose on society and to approach the selling process with integrity and honesty, trying to operate in an ethical way. The main aim of this type of policy is to satisfy the growing demand of the consumers not only on quality and price but also on brand values that match with their own. The reputation of a brand is tightly related to this. There is also a benefit for investment.
An increasing number of investment companies look for safe investments and define these in terms of good management of intangibles. This is related to the growing importance of socially responsible investment that excludes shares in companies operating unethically. A company, which is willing to implement corporate social responsibility policies, must be aware of the issues it may be confronted in the marketplace. The impact on the society of its core products should be positive, the firm should advert and trade in an ethical way, but it also hould fairly treat it suppliers fairly. One of the main principles of CSR in the marketplace is respecting customers and supporting vulnerable ones. * The alcohol industry has an obvious overall negative impact on society Liquor companies mainly produce and sell drinks that have for long been considered as harmfull and addictive. Mostly major health problems related to alcohol consumption are caused due to chronic drinking. Alcohol affects the brain and central nervous system as it slows down the reaction of the drinker.
High dosage of alcohol can lead to aggressive behaviours especially when chronic. As a consequence, in the USA, alcohol is partly responsible for more than 66% of murders. Besides risk of cancer increases with habitual drinking of alcohol. One of the primary targets of cancer is liver. Heavy drinking of alcohol can also lead to anaemia or gout. As we can see in the map above alcohol consumption is one of the main causes of death worldwide. But this is not the only reason why liquor companies are perceived as socially unacceptable industries.
They are also criticised due to their marketing policies. Indeed, in the US, they are for instance accused of targeting minority group in their marketing campaigns and by such, contributing to the perpetuation of racism. But, the main issue concerns the campaigns targeting young people. This is a very profitable and buoyant market for them. Thus, despite the alcohol industry’s claims that it does not advertise to underage youth, young people are consistently exposed to and affected by alcohol marketing.
This exposure increases underage drinking, promotes brand awareness and influences youth attitudes about drinking. Alcohol is by far the most used and abused drug among America’s teenagers. According to a national survey, nearly one third (31. 5%) of all high school students reported hazardous drinking (5+ drinks in one setting) during the 30 days preceding the Survey (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 1999) . Children who are drinking alcohol before 15 are more likely to report academic problems, substance use, and delinquent behaviour in both middle school and high school.
By young adulthood, early alcohol use was associated with employment problems, other substance abuse, and criminal and other violent behaviour. As forms of “new media” emerge and become more sophisticated, alcohol companies are among the first to take advantage of these new marketing opportunities. Coupled with lax age verification, many alcohol companies have designed their Web sites in a way that appeals to youth. Budlight. com, for example, is full of interactive features that have a broad appeal to teens. Visitors can play games, listen to music, watch and rate Bud Light ads, and send Bud Light emails to friends.
There are also a number of items that can be downloaded, including alcohol branded desktop wallpaper, instant messaging icons, and screensavers. Therefore, this industry is strongly regulated by States as it is seen as a social plague. In this perspective, alcohol producers can hardly promote their social responsibility. They are often criticized for their targeting marketing on young people. Their main goal is thus to maximise profits by selling “sin” and, promoting the well being of their consumers is fundamentally contrary to this goal.