The relationship between the social environment and the strategy of an organization Introduction Social environment factors greatly affect company’s strategies and shape the way the company treats customers. There are four factors influencing on consumer behavior – social, cultural, personal and psychological factors (MBA Notes World 2013). In this writing, the author has selected Marks & Spencer (M), one of the Auk’s leading retailers as a result of its reputation for product variety and quality from apparels and home products to food and financial services. As grown from a single market shop to become a big international multi-channel retailer in diverse locations across the world. The company provides well-selected materials for its various products to guarantee that it can serve all customers’ needs. In a dynamic world, retail organizations are required to create ability to meet several customer expectations. As customers are more knowledgeable, sophisticated and more demanding, the retail businesses must monitor and know how to approach and provide their products and services to serve the customer needs.
M seems to be a brand which has become a part of the British ways of life cause of its wide ranges of products with over 120 years of successful brand. The relationship between social environment impacts and the M’ strategies will be focused in terms of corporate environmental responsibility. Environmental Impact During the past few decades, there is unintended ecological deterioration, which includes global warning, ozone depletion and industrial accidents (1995, cited in Popular 2008). Accordingly, in the last two decades the public have placed an importance on environmental issue substantially.
Classes and Hybrid (1999, cited in Popular 2008) point out that consumers obviously eve become more aware of environmental sides, and they are demanding the business communities to take appropriate action in order to preserve and sustain the natural environment. This consumer pressure had led to strict environmental regulations that have impacts on the way that many firms behave and response to environmental responsibility. Platforms (2009) explains that in the last two decades, there was considerable growth on Corporate Social Responsibility (CARS) issues.
Many companies in various sectors paid attention to this subject and took this agenda into the meeting. It can be implied that modern firms understood the social force and brought this topic into a holistic sense in order to be a good corporation in stakeholders’ views. The relationship between social factors and CARS strategies can be explained by the ‘institutional isomorphism’ theory (DiMaggio and Powell 1983, cited in Popular 2008). Apart from the formal regulations, norms and values forces, the green initiatives are driven by ‘moral legitimacy (Such man 1995, cited in Popular 2008).
Due to these forces, organizations are required to set and apply corporate environmental or CARS tragedies in order to adapt themselves and survive the businesses. Plan A – Doing the Right Thing. M&S which has a reputation as a socially concerned organization believes that CARS is vital and leads the company to sustainable growth. Since CARS has become the social interest for the firm to engage, M&S has taken proactive actions to develop and implement green strategies which affect consumer behavior as well. M&S has been involved in various CARS activities focusing on people, products, and communities.
This strategy enables M&S to differentiate from other retailers. The company has launched an effective ethical campaign called ‘Plan A’ in 2007. “Plan A is all about doing the right thing” with the slogan “because there is no Plan B” (Your M&S 2013). It aims at becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015 working with not only customers but also suppliers to help improve climate change, waste, natural resources, healthier and good-wellbeing lifestyles and also trading ethically (Marketing 2012).
The reasons why this organization responds to the environmental issue are not only legislative requirements but also the consumer attitudes towards companies’ activities. In addition, the founders of M&S focused on creating strong relationships with suppliers, employees, and the community so M&S has seriously improved and maintained CARS activities in the name of ‘Plan A’. For example, set the first target on reducing carbon emission as it was a serious environment factor affecting M&S business.
According to Your M&S (2013), M&S added 730,000 tones of co per year in 2007 as the big scale of M&S business is evitable to cause CO. In order to tackle this problem, M&S has bought carbon offsets to reduce the green gas from the firm’s production activities. Furthermore, the company has spent age money on researching new technologies on fridges, store and office equipment, or even aerodynamic shaped truck trailers to save the energy consumption. In 201 2, the percentage of carbon emission fell by 22% while the business has been growing. Says attention to the whole process of its supply chain from its plants to M stores. For example, the company has set up echo factories, used washer-dryer to launder M clothes, and as a big retailer, the company has also shared the carbon-cutting know with its suppliers. Besides, M has encouraged customers to reduce demand for shopping bags by charging up for every plastic bag they use. The money from this charge will be spent on many charity organizations, education projects, improving parks and play areas across the country (The Guardian 2013).
This campaign is very powerful as it enables customers to consume less plastic bags while saving money and customers can become a part of this ethical activity to create the better environment together. The company has effective footprints on the ‘Plan A’ which can go along well with the business growth and social environment. Another upcoming CARS activity of is the cooperation between and IT companies to improve the local people’s quality of life. According to Your M&S (201 3), the several big companies Microsoft, SAP, Cognizant, etc. Ill team up with M&S to help care home residents to enjoy the social benefits of using online services on ‘A cup of IT’ campaign starting on 19 November 2013. M&S realized that the Internet world is fantastic and offers opportunities to older people to improve the quality of life. They can search and enjoy memories of places they have visited, connect and enjoy with their friends and families. Moreover, these IT companies together with will donate refurbished computers and Wife access cards for care homes.
There will be 600 volunteer staff from big IT impasses participating in this activity to help 200 care home residents in local communities. This big project is Very interesting and initiates a new way of CARS activity as the programmer is not focusing on the natural environment but combining the IT influence with social responsibility impact. Behind the CARS strategies M&S has shaped the way the British think especially about food consumption for a long time. According to a T NSA survey (201 2, cited in Research Methodology, 201 3), M&S received the most ethical retailer brand in the ASK.
Since the company launched ‘Plan A’ in 2007, can greatly appeal the ethical conscience to customers. M&S has clearly and wisely provided its CARS strategies and practices on its company’s website together with generate press release and company reports so as to create good image. All of these are also parts of public relations strategies. Cruz et al. (2008, cited in Bond et 201 2), states that there are four motivations causing one organization to apply CARS strategies -? cost and risk reduction, creating competitive advantage, building company’s reputation and good image, and generating mutual benefits.
However, there is relationship between CARS practices and environmental motivations. Popular (2008) mentions that the adoption of ethical policies coming from environmental motivations – legislation, competitiveness and morality. All three environmental factors have an impact on the direction of companies in terms of corporate environmental strategies and green practices (Exhibit 1). Exhibit 1: A research framework of environmental motivation (Source: Appear 2008455) Because of these social forces, M&S applies the CARS strategies to satisfy the society, be a moral business representative and generate the company’s profits.
For legislation reasons, M is acting proactively to reduce the environmental risks by protecting itself from possible accusations or complaints of the CARS issue from government and non-government organizations. In addition, M can exploit the opportunity from the social concerns by creating differentiation and competitive advantages through CARS campaigns which are related to marketing perspectives as well. People would recognize the M brand via marketing and advertisement.
Providing the quality goods is not competitive enough in the fast changing environment, M has smartly strengthened its competitiveness by promoting itself to be an ethical retailer distinct from others. The environmental issue can affect the company’s practices while the company can turn the forces into the opportunity, set a new trend and influence British people’s ways of life, for example, the charge of plastic bags campaign. British people are more aware of carrying their own shopping bags if they do not want to pay extra money.
M was the first retailer to initiate this campaign after that most supermarkets mimicked this idea as it can represent corporate social responsibility. Furthermore, according to Cone Communications (2013), the study shows that 90% of global respondents towards CARS would stop buying company’s products if they are irresponsible or deceptive. Moreover, about 96% of consumers have a more positive image of a company when it engages in CARS, and surprisingly 93% of respondents would be more loyal to the brands which have ethical practices.
In the author’s view, the reason why consumers behave like that is consumers want to reward companies for their positive societal influences. Conclusion M made the decision to adopt CARS strategies by considering stakeholders’ expectations and the triple bottom line of economic, social, and environmental performance (Bond et al. 2012). The company takes the elective responsibilities sharing knowledge and expertise to the whole supply chain in order to create real CARS practices which ultimately generate profits. Moreover, M&S arranges ethical activities in the wider public so as to be a sustainable business.