Grupo Bimbo’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) app is unlikely to spark interest among consumers but could prove valuable as a way to collate business efforts and differentiate, says an innovation expert.
The Mexican bread titan has developed a free-to-download iPad social responsibility application called 'Sembrando Juntos' (sowing together) to promote its environmental and welfare efforts and give advice to consumers on engaging with the environment and voluntary programs.
“The Sembrando Juntos app has been developed with a fun and interactive approach, to facilitate the understanding of the vast network of social responsibility actions that the firm performs every year, as well as those that have been permanently incorporated as part of its operations”, said Martha Eugenia Hernández, institutional relations director for Grupo Bimbo.
However, innovation insights director at Datamonitor Consumer Tom Vierhile said that while social responsibility is important, a smartphone app doesn’t make sense from a consumer stand-point.
“I think it is great for a company to think about these issues, but wonder how motivated the average consumer will be to seek out a given company’s social responsibility activities in a product category that tends to be relatively low involvement,” Vierhile told BakeryandSnacks.com.
When it comes to purchase decisions, he said consumers are more concerned with basic product attributes when it comes to food and beverage purchases.
The key purchase influencers are flavor, nutrition information and price comparison, according to Datamonitor Consumers’ 2013 global consumer survey.
Change on the horizon? Social responsibility could gain ground in 2014
However, Vierhile said the app could prove useful from a business perspective for Grupo Bimbo.
“All consumer packaged goods companies – bakeries and more – need to be reviewing their own environmental and social responsibility efforts. I’m not sure they necessarily need to develop a smartphone app as a response, but this can be something that can bring a company’s efforts under one umbrella.”
At the same time, it could also work to differentiate the company when price and quality are the same, he said.
“According to the 2012 Edelman good purpose study, ‘social purpose’ has become an increasingly important factor when quality and price of a product are deemed equal.”
“… It is possible that we will be hearing more about political issues like income inequality as we move through 2014, and some consumer companies have already been faced with questions related to these concerns.”
Overcoming consumer caution
However, companies publicly discussing social responsibility efforts must remember that consumers are often cautious of communication from the company itself, he said.
“[They] tend to be wary about the true motivation of companies seeking to burnish these credentials.”
Over half of US consumers either ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that ‘grocery brands only introduce environmental and social responsibility programs to improve their corporate image’, according to Datamonitor Consumer’s 2013 global consumer survey. Globally, this percentage is slightly higher – at 64%.