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June 24, 2019

The growing momentum for environmental and social responsibility

Across Australia and New Zealand, companies are talking more than ever about their contribution to greater good – for people and the planet

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has moved considerably from ‘a nice to have’ to a ‘must have’. Where it was once a voluntary decision of individuals within a company now, we see greater emphasis on mandatory schemes at regional, national and even transnational levels. For those unfamiliar, CSR also includes social and environmental impact and requires companies to consider the interests of all stakeholders when going about day to day operation including investors, suppliers, consumers, employees and the community.

In the current climate, this presents an interesting question for companies who are going to have to strike the right balance across areas like shareholders priorities, the provision of jobs or saving the planet.

​There is no doubt that modern companies have realised the importance of operating and thinking in an ethical and sustainable way. Social impact has evolved from a PR play to an important part of a companies’ strategy. This trend is often in part to also attract top talent as new professionals’ value and even seek out companies where positive social and environmental initiatives are prioritised and social responsibility is part of the company’s ongoing strategy or culture.

​In Australia and New Zealand, CSR programs have become central for many companies. In the early 2000s, one of New Zealand’s largest banks announced its policy to move to triple bottom line reporting, which broadens a business’ reporting focus to include social and environmental impact as well as just the financial. Since then, it has pursued a large range of CSR activities including community contributions (company branded helicopters), as well as environmental initiatives. Recently, green growth lending targets have been set as well as the introduction of electric and hybrid cars – a partnership with Sir Peter Blake Trust which encourages environmental awareness and leadership development. And most recently, this bank has become a living wage employer.

​Seeking to be an industry leader in environmental sustainability, Australia’s largest airline recognises that the cost of inaction outweighs the cost of action. Determined to embed environmental performance and sustainability principles within all management systems, policy and practices, by 2020 they are striving to save 20 per cent on electricity and water consumption, reduce waste by 30 per cent, improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent each year and cut net emissions by 50 per cent come 2050. Having initiatives in the air and on the ground allows them to better achieve their goals of helping protect our environment for present and future generations.

​It has become evident New Zealanders increasingly care about climate change and their concern for the environment with the introduction of the new Climate Change Response Amendment Bill. Colmar Brunton’s Better Futures research (2019) shows us that 55 per cent of New Zealanders express high level of concern around the impact of climate change on New Zealand. This figure has increased a notable 31 per cent from 2010 and as it is argued New Zealand is a progressive country, there is a strong consensus emerging they could play as a global leader with this issue. The Bill means New Zealand will need to dramatically reduce their emissions, particularly from transport, energy and agriculture, and offset the ret through new forestry. If a country like New Zealand can’t do it, who can?

Interestingly, in the latest edition of Isentia’s Leadership Index released in March 2019, New Zealand leaders discussed CSR in 12% of the media coverage analysed, behind financial results at 57%. Potentially a good precursor to what might now be another impressive topical lead for New Zealand. 

​In another study conducted by Business Insider Australia, 77 per cent of consumers said they would choose to pay more to purchase from companies demonstrating community responsibility. This shift is a result of consumers expecting less of institutions and governments in particular. In an era of fake news and celebrity style politics, consumers are looking more to companies to do the right thing by society and are prepared to pay for the peace of mind.

​External-facing reputation isn’t the only thing that needs to be worried about. Engaging in positive social and environmental initiatives can have a big impact on companies, both internally and externally – some of these include:

Increase in company revenue

Boost in employee productivity

Reduced staff turnover

Protected brand value

Improved Research and Development

Controlled risk management

Nowadays, instead of using traditional accounting practices, it is encouraged for companies to look at its success from financial, environmental and social perspectives. Triple Bottom Line (TBL), also sometimes called people, planet and profit measures a company’s success by examining growth from an economic, social and ecological perspective.

Profit – the traditional measure of corporate profit, the ‘bottom line’

People – a measure in some shape or form of how socially responsible an organization has been throughout its operations.

Planet – a measure of how environmentally responsible it has been.

Using this method will continue the success for current and subsequent generations and help leaders build more sustainable and socially responsible companies.

3 ways to leverage CSR

Choose your social and environmental initiatives based on the fit with your company’s strategy and develop long-term relationships with social causes. Use employee volunteer programs, product donations and advocacy support, however, be modest in promoting CSR to gain customer goodwill and third-party promotion as this can detract from the CSR initiative. The key here is it has to be authentic or be perceived as authentic by you key audiences.

Here’s what we know: CEOs, CMO’s and Chief Communications Officers who support corporate social responsibility lead their companies to greater success in comparison to those who do not. Society is demanding companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show it makes a positive contribution to society. With this, reputation, talent and incentives are the 3 key areas we feel need to be nurtured when undertaking a CSR initiative.

1.       Reputation

The benefits of corporate social responsibility are not limited to dollars and cents. Such policies confer other benefits as well, such as a better company reputation. Some companies enhance their reputation through philanthropic actions, supporting charitable causes, arts organisations, education programs and other initiatives in the communities where they conduct business. However, socially responsible policies related to health, safety and the environment also improve companies’ public images which also assists with protecting companies’ brands and intellectual property. A lack of such policies can result in negative media attention, harming a company’s reputation.

Companies operate in a market of opinion. How companies are judged by customers, suppliers and the broader community will have an impact on profitability and success. Corporate social responsibility offers a means by which companies can manage and influence the attitudes and perceptions of their stakeholders, building trust and enabling benefits of positive relationships to deliver business advantage.

2.       Talent

A meaningful and well-executed CSR strategy can help attract and retain top talent in an increasingly competitive human capital market, especially in industries with a large number of customer-facing employees.

With exponentially more choices, candidates judge potential employers on more than just the standard set of benefits. Millennials in particular look to be part of something ‘bigger.’ They want to be inspired, to feel good about their employment choice and to join an organization that fits with their values. This often means seeking potential employers that support causes they are passionate about, or more broadly, that share their views on the importance of giving back. Working at a company where employees view their CSR efforts as positive, has a significant and favourable impact on how they rate their pride in the organisation, their overall satisfaction, their willingness to recommend it as a place to work and their intention to stay.

3.       Incentive

How far do the effects of CSR reach? Can it impact the way customers perceive a company and their products? Companies can incentivise their customers with CSR initiatives to enable a stronger and more passionate and loyal customer base.

​Knowing a company has behaved ethically can cause customers to perceive a company’s product as performing better, known as the “benevolent halo.” Moreover, consumers must believe the company’s motives to be authentically benevolent, rather than merely self-beneficial for the company, and the halo effect is strongest for consumers who believe companies have a desire to act charitably. 

In case there is no CSR strategy currently implemented in your workplace, you can start with some small changes that can have a larger impact on the wider environment.  Start with recycling old tech products, such as old computer parts, old mobile phones, cords and cables and all manner of e-waste that is no longer needed. Recycling paper and printer cartridges are also easy and effective ways to implement positive change around the workplace and is a step in the right direction to making a positive difference.

​​Thankfully, whatever the outcome it looks like the future may be a bit greener.

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15th May 2019 

UN Women National Committee Australia and Isentia Media Intelligence Announce Partnership

UN Women National Committee (NC) Australia is pleased to announce their partnership with media intelligence company Isentia in a joint effort to accelerate gender equality. 

Isentia, in support of the world’s women and girls, are proud to be able to provide valuable media intelligence and reporting to strengthen UN Women NC Australia’s fundraising activities and events throughout the year, including their inaugural International Women’s Day events across Australia.

UN Women NC Australia are pleased to stand alongside a company that aligns with UN Women’s commitment to gender inclusion and equality. Isentia is committed to diversity and inclusion through their policy and practices across the group. Chief Human Resources Officer for Isentia Kelly Young notes, “We believe diversity is our strength. Working together as one team is a core value to who we are and how we deliver to our clients. We continually strive to be a workplace that embraces and values diversity, taking opportunities to share and celebrate our uniqueness.”

Like UN Women’s efforts to promote gender equality, nurturing diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Isentia’s work. “We see the benefits of diversity and inclusion from its contribution in achieving our strategic objectives and enhances our reputation,” continues Ms Young. “It enables us to make more informed and innovative decisions, drawing on the wide range of ideas, experiences, approaches and perspectives that our people from diverse backgrounds, with differing skill sets, bring to their roles. A diverse workplace gives us a better representation of our stakeholders and markets.”

UN Women NC Australia Executive Director Janelle Weissman said of the partnership,

“We are delighted to have Isentia’s support on the path to achieving parity. Gender equality can only be achieved by working together. It is fantastic to have the incredible support of organisations like Isentia, standing with us to empower the world’s women and girls.”


-ENDS-

UN WOMEN NC AUSTRALIA MEDIA CONTACT:
Leisa Quinn (02) 6185 0010, leisa.quinn@unwomen.org.au
UN Women is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their rights worldwide.

UN Women National Committee Australia is the fundraising and advocacy arm of the United Nations agency for gender equality, here in Australia.

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Media Release
UN Women National Committee Australia and Isentia Partnership

UN Women National Committee Australia and Isentia Media Intelligence Announce Partnership

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The state of the electric vehicle industry in Malaysia

Malaysia's automotive industry is one of the more environmentally-friendly industries. Various parties, such as the government and local automotive industry players, have continuously sought to promote electric vehicles (EVs). 

The subject of electric vehicles (EV) is growing among the Malaysian public in the social media sphere due to continuous efforts to promote EVs by various parties such as the government, local automotive industry players as well as companies directly involved in several aspects of EV (charging facilities/networks etc.)


Using data from Pulsar, Isentia analysed the conversations surrounding the topic of EV amongst Malaysia's social media users.

 

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How did discussions involving electric vehicles in Malaysia go?

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In this word bank powered by Isentia’s vast datasets, some of the most common keywords used by Malaysians when discussing EVs, apart from the topic itself, are 'drive', 'chargers', and 'battery'. EV is also associated with ‘future’ and ‘expensive’.

Across the country, social media users agreed that Malaysia is lagging behind neighbouring nations (such as Indonesia and Thailand) in EV facilities and vehicle development. They also agree that EVs are only accessible to rich people in the country because of a lack of affordable options and that the Malaysian government and other players should do more to promote electric vehicles as a practical form of transportation.

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What are the audience segments that have been talking about electric cars online?

Malaysian social media users who are more interested in electric vehicles are most interested in watching movies and TV. The three main audience segments include the Conservatives, Technology Enthusiasts, and Innovation Seekers. They are predominantly male audiences aged between 18 and 24. 

They also have high media affinity with Malaysia's prominent media outlets, such as Astro Awani, Bernama, and technology-focused outlets, such as Amanz and Digital News Asia.

 

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Conservatives follow social media accounts of mainstream news outlets and the government (ministers, ministries, agencies etc.) They believe government policies would benefit their daily lives, such as EV-related ones.

Technology enthusiasts seek out exciting posts on new technologies and actively participate in discussions surrounding them. They are advocates of technologies that would make the environment that they live in better, as well as efficient technologies.

Innovation seekers are actively sharing news and involved in conversations about innovations that enhance the development of industries relying on the newest technology. They tend to evolve their lifestyles accordingly and embrace innovations available at their disposal.

 

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What are the catalysts of EV discussions among Malaysians?

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Several points between April and July 2022 peaked due to active discussions among Malaysians on EV:

Launch of Automotive High-Tech Valley on 14 April - The launch would assist in positioning Malaysia as a hub for EV manufacturers and component suppliers to the ASEAN market.

Foxconn announced plans to build a facility in Malaysia on 19 May - Taiwanese company Foxconn plans to build a chip production facility in Malaysia with Malaysia's Dagang NeXchange Berhad to fulfil the demand for EV semiconductors.

Criticism of parking at charging facilities on 10 June - There was criticism towards road users in Malaysia who parked their vehicles at EV charging facilities.

Samsung develops plant in Malaysia on 21 June - Samsung SDI Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd announced that they are developing a RM7 billion plant in Negeri Sembilan to pioneer the EV battery cell industry in the country.

First Range Extended EV developed in Malaysia on 21 July - Mimos Berhad has developed the first Range Extended Electric Vehicle (RE-EV) in Malaysia with the cooperation of Motosikal dan Enjin Nasional Sdn Bhd (Modenas) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP).

Get in touch with Isentia today to learn more about what consumers are saying about your brand. 

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Isentia Malaysia Case Study | Electric Vehicle (EV) Conversations in Malaysia’s Social Media Sphere
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How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia.

What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar's recent report on the online conversation on sunscreen and SPF, we can understand how audience intelligence and media monitoring can help organisations direct and target their messaging and operations in response to (for example) significant regulatory changes. 

Last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the release of the new Therapeutic Advertising Code that came into A pivotal reform to the code involves restrictions on testimonials and endorsements of therapeutic goods in advertising, including social media. Influencers were flurrying about how they would continue to promote therapeutic products like sunscreens, skinny teas, collagen powders and the like within Australia. 

The code allows for genuine, unpaid testimonials in advertising. Still, it prohibits influencers from making testimonials or endorsements based on their own experiences due to using a product. They can only stick to communicating the product's aims and purpose as claimed by the product's labelling and instructions. The recommendation must also align with the product's purpose, as the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods records.

So why is this happening, and how can influencers still operate under these new regulations? The TGA ensures that consumers can trust that recommendations are unbiased without the influence of incentives, including gifts. There is a further requirement for social media influencers to include mandatory statements in their advertisements depending on the type of product and its availability to the public. The TGA also highlighted that they aren't making any unusual changes but are just aligning advertising on new platforms with code that previously targeted more traditional forms of advertising.

The code requires all testimonials that are in breach to have been taken down by July 1st.

But some influencers have not taken to the new regulations well, believing the new rules will hinder a critical source of information for consumers and audiences. Australian sunscreen (Naked Sundays) owner Samantha Brett, told the Sydney Morning Herald Emerald City she believes sunscreen should be exempt from the laws asking, "How else will those who are influenced by social media, particularly Millennials who are most at risk of melanoma, be encouraged to use sunscreen every day."

On August 22nd, Got-to Skincare's founder Zoe Foster Blake posted a statement on Instagram to announce the release of a new SPF 50 sunscreen product and how the code impinges people's sun protection practices and knowledge.

“I believe elements of the code have the potential to reverse the momentum public health, cancer awareness groups, and skin specialists have been building for years to ensure Australians wear sunscreen daily”.

Foster-Blake goes on to highlight how some still find sunscreen polarising and unappealing. 

“Many consumers still believe sunscreen is gross, thick, greasy. It’s not.”

But are younger demographics, influenced by social media, confused about sunscreen use? Social discussion would say the answer is yes. Where to apply, how many times to reapply and in what settings is wearing sunscreen necessary are some questions people are asking.

Social media conversation around sunscreen is evolving and recorded by Pulsar as a therapeutic good that goes beyond a necessary use case. Sunscreen is feeling the influences of climate change activists and holistic beauty trend-setters tied to long-term health values.

@sethobrien using the recommended amount of sunscreen for the first time #skincare @cerave ♬ original sound - Sethobrien

Promoting sunscreen and daily SPF use on social media has a positive impact on long-term health and beauty maintenance and protection against skin cancers; 51.1% of Australians' reasons for applying sunscreen, as discussed in online conversation, is to protect against skin cancers.

There is still confusion around SPF levels and growing concerns around online conversation promoting misinformation that sunscreen use increases the likelihood of ailments like melanoma, reportedly one of the most common cancers in young adults.

Social media conversation and prolific posting of beauty & wellness-related content frame spaces where skincare brands can find their niche. Brands like Cerave and Supergoop are finding ways to differentiate their branding to appeal to specific communities (meet their communities in the full report). Is this new code holding social media influencers to account for their sway over masses of followers? Or is it taking away a vital information-sharing source? Time will tell if the regulations will significantly impact beauty and wellness influencer marketing in Australia. However, the effects may be taking hold now. If you look up sunscreen and SPF on tiktok, you will notice a decrease in related content since the end of 2021.

Avoid the risk of getting burnt and check the code to ensure you’re not in breach.

Discover the full report

Want to understand how therapeutic goods are driving beauty trends and changing the intersection between health and beauty? Download Pulsar’s report “Applying audience intelligence to Sunscreen”.

Contact Isentia to stay on top of media topics that impact your organisation!

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Will wellness brands need to rethink how they use and apply influencer marketing?

How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia. What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar’s recent report on the online […]

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Sustainability in businesses, and where to draw the line

With consumers taking more of an interest in living a sustainable lifestyle, many companies are prompted to take steps to reduce their environmental impact and embrace sustainability.

 

However, what happens when companies make false claims that they are more sustainable than they actually are? This is where greenwashing comes in. Greenwashing is when a brand frames itself to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but is not making any notable sustainability efforts.

 

We analysed conversations on greenwashing among Malaysia's social media users powered by Pulsar's data.

 

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Who is involved and how did these discussions on greenwashing go?

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Our study shows that the term "greenwashing" is not as widely used when consumers call out practices that mislead the people with positive communications on environmental and sustainability practices when it is not. 

 

'Investment', 'banking', 'ESG', and 'sustainability’ are just some of the keywords most commonly used when Malaysians talk about greenwashing. 

 

Consumers tend to be sceptical and raise concerns with sustainability claims as they question the effectiveness and legitimacy of such initiatives. Some have linked such "green efforts" as a tactic for cost-cutting and even for financial gains.

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What are the audience segments that have been talking about greenwashing online?

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Malaysians talking about greenwashing online lean slightly more towards males. In terms of age group, the 18 to 24 years old have shown stronger interest in the topic. 

 

They are most interested in watching movies and TV and have high media affinity with some of the nation’s prominent media outlets such as Astro Awani, The Star, and Bernama. They tend to be sentimental, particular, and analytical.    

 

The top three audience segments we have identified talking about greenwashing are The Green Lovers, The Informers, and the Activists

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The Green Lovers who are passionate about sustainable lifestyle are highly interested in entertainment and social issues. Their choices are driven by a desire for well-being. 

 

The Informers, on the other hand, follow media outlets such as Astro Awani, The Star, and Bernama and tend to share content that concern the people with their networks. Their desire for organisation drives the choices that they make.


The Activists describe themselves as advocates for social issues. They follow political figures such as Khairy Jamaluddin, Syed Saddiq, and Hannah Yeoh. They are philosophical, authority-challenging, and empathetic.

Despite having different interests, their purchase decisions are likely to be influenced by online advertisements, brand names, and social media.

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What industries do consumers associate with greenwashing?

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Sustainable businesses are focused on continuous improvement and long-term goals. They seek to promote the health of a company and the community in which it operates while balancing these goals with the need to develop profit.

 

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However, despite efforts to campaign for sustainability and adhere to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards, some industries such as banking, oil and gas, and fast fashion have been called out for greenwashing.

Consumers have also pointed out initiatives such as the RM0.20 plastic bag pollution charges by the public sector for missing the ESG mark for seemingly profiting from the use of plastic bags. 

Generally, these sectors have been criticised for failing to fulfil their 'green commitments’ adequately.

Greenwashing can be harmful to a company’s reputation in the long run. As many consumers are focusing on ‘conscious consumerism’, companies are expected to live up to their sustainability goals. 

 

Get in touch with Isentia today to learn more about what consumers are saying about your company and brand in relation to greenwashing.

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Isentia Malaysia Case Study: Exploring Malaysians’ Perception of Greenwashing

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