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7001MKT Corporate Communications: Analysis of The Body Shop

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Case Study: Body Shop

Purpose:

The aim of this second report is to extend your knowledge of corporate communications and your ability to apply that knowledge to a real organization. You will particularly focus on CSR issues management, and making realistic recommendations.

Task:

The aim of this second report is to extend your knowledge of corporate communications and your ability to apply that knowledge to a real organization. You will particularly focus on CSR issues management, and making realistic recommendations. This means that your recommendations should be both desirable AND feasible.

Answer:

Introduction

Nearly every company has recognized the need and the benefit of taking part in corporate social responsibility. Businesses are expected to be socially responsible, which is widely known as the corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Oyvind, Bartlett, & May, 2014). Businesses are expected to take care of social and environmental concerns in their operations as well as in their interactions with all the stakeholders. In the current world, stakeholders require organizations to communicate their position regarding social responsibility. For instance, 50% of the US consumers have boycotted products of companies that offer poor customer service, low-quality products, and actions that are not sound to the environment (Nylander, 2010). This demonstrates the need for issues management regarding CSR issues that organizations face. Issues management is supposed to be done openly and in a transparent manner. The way problems are managed differentiates a major crisis from the manageable situation. This paper is a report on CSR and corporate communication strategy used by Body Shop Company.

Integrating CSR and Issues Management

Corporate social responsibility and issues management has become part of the contemporary businesses. It is nearly impossible for any business to maintain its competitive advantage without taking part in CSR programs. However, CSR has various risks and issues that when not properly managed can plunge the business into more problem (Brønn & Brønn, 2002). Through issue management, companies can define their strategies on the best way to respond to activities groups who always complain about a stricter control on the activities of the business. Consequently, CSR and issues management are mostly integrated to give the business an opportunity to address emerging issues before they get to the public (Ranängen, 2017). There are specific theories that best describe corporate social responsibility and issues management.

Stakeholder Theory

According to the stakeholder theory, organizations are expected to constitute groups in the society apart from the shareholders and operate beyond what the law and regulation require. Consequently, it is a theory that focuses on those who have claim or stake in the firm and they include employees, shareholders, suppliers, customers, the environment, and the local community. The stakeholder theory demonstrates that the primary goal of the firm is to create wealth for the stakeholders through conversion of their stake in services and goods (Brown & Forster, 2013). According to Martínez, Fernández, and Fernández (2016), corporate social responsibility inspires organizations to attend to the interests and rights of every category of stakeholder. It takes into consideration the rights and interest of every stakeholder and not only what is required as per the law.

Theory Surrounding Issues Management


Issues arise when an organization there is a gap between what the company does and what the public expects. Issue management is, therefore, the effort that the organization put to bridge the legitimacy gap that exists (Zhang & Borden, 2017). Businesses are expected to search for and attain concurrence that meets the standards of the corporate responsibility. Organizations must strive to be good if they are to do what is right and that requires a complete overhaul in the core business. The theory that best explains the concept of issue management is the rhetorical theory.

System Theory on Issue Management

Rhetorical theory is essential as it offers the rationale for dialogue when there is a conflict with the aim of forming collective meaning. It is more of social construction that promotes collaborative decision-making and co-created meaning through statement and counter statement paradigm (Einwiller & Johar, (2013). In the issue management situations, businesses rhetoric is meant to influence the public attention to other aspects on the matter in contention (Bowen & Heath, 2005). Successful management of any problem requires the organization to be a good business before thinking of ways to address the issue (Heath & Palenchar, 2009). Organizations are not supposed to be reactive to matters but proactive, which can be achieved through various corporate social responsibility programs where the interest and rights of all stakeholders are respected.

CSR Issues Management

Consumers currently want to deal with organizations that take part in activities that are environmentally sound and have excellent customer service. Organizations whose values go against the social responsibilities face boycott and protests from consumers and employees. Corporate social responsibility is one of the ways through which companies avoid negative publications (Nylander, 2010). It calls for proper issues management techniques to ensure crises are solved appropriately and timely. For instance, activist groups will always take such opportunities to lobby the regulators to come up with stricter control on business. Issues management comes in to help organizations come up with the most effective ways of countering such efforts by an activist group (Heath & Palenchar, 2011). Before thinking of countering the complaints from the stakeholders, the business needs to have its core value integrated into social responsibilities to prevent it from getting into issues or crisis.

Role of CSR within Body Shop

The company honour principle of CSR is the Body Shop Company. A Human Right Founder called Anita Roddick was the founder and the first store was opened in Brighton in 1976 and became public in 1985 The company deals in beautifying products, which are made from organic ingredients. Body Shop sells its product globally, and primary interest is to promote natural beauty. The first project towards social responsibility was dubbed “Save the Whale” which started in 1986 before coming up with Body Shop Foundation that was launched in 1990 (Kent & Stone, 2007). The foundation was meant to offer animal protection, protect the environment and human rights that are intended to protect the planet, animals, and the entire planet. The company is highly conscious about social and environmental problems that the society around the world is exposed to currently.

Body Shop Company offers suppliers a sense of security as well as additional income as a way of appreciating and encouraging them to continue with responsible supplies that lead to high-quality products. Body shop protects animals and does not promote cosmetic testing on animals. As such, the company has researched and developed ways of designing synthetically grown human skin that can be effectively used in testing cosmetics. Additionally, Body Shop Company trains and raises awareness among its employees through various feedback from different other stakeholders.

Body Shop Company understands that it is essential to plan its entire plan with stakeholders to build and maintain the corporate reputation. Besides, it recognizes the importance of streamlining communication that relay a concise, clear, and consistent message of its CSR activities (Dahlsrud, 2008). Body Shop Company communicates its CSR strategies through different channels. For instance, it uses public relations and advertisement when championing for its programs such as “Save the Whale,” Animal protection, and human rights. For instance, the major advertisement campaign for the CSR program “Save the Whale” was introduced in 1986 and it was intended to protect whales from going extinct ("About Us | The Body Shop", n.d.). The company has continued to campaign on social issues such as the one on sex trafficking. This has been a very effective means of communicating the company CSR efforts as it gives the consumers the opportunity to be involved in the campaign.

The company has equally adopted the use of social media in the United States where its Twitter and Facebook pages are used to promote its CSR programs. Body Shop appears to be very communicative on social media, and when confronted with negative comments from Facebook or Twitter uses, the one managing the accounts always respond with personal touch comments. Through its diverse communication methods, the company has been able to explain its CSR activities to the public and effectively counter possible backlash from its programs (Mohan, 2006). This has since created a large base of loyal consumers who believe in the efforts of the company. Its employees are equally motivated and are ready to ensure that the company reputation is protected and its goals achieved.

Role of CSR Issues Management for Body Shop

Before venturing into any CSR program, Body Shop carries out extensive research to find out what its customers want the brand to the campaign. For instance, before starting the campaign on “Forever Against Animal Testing,” the company researched, and this is what the issue customers wanted to be addressed ("About Us | The Body Shop", n.d.). It believes in campaigning not because it wants to increase sales but because that is the mission of Body Shop.

Most of the beauty shops are known to use animals to test their cosmetics, but Body Shop believed in not harming animals or anyone to make cosmetic products. The authorities should come up with stricter regulations to save innocent animals. Body Shop researched and came up with a sustainable way of testing cosmetics with harming animals or anyone and this issue management that the company has had.

Body Shop has used various platforms to communicate how it has addressed the problem of hurting animals and its intention to discourage other businesses from using animals when testing their products. Based on such steps, the company has been regarded as a highly reputable brand that is more concerned in conserving the lives of animal (Argenti & Druckenmiller, 2004). Besides, it is celebrated for coming solution by designing synthetically grown human skin that can be used in place of animals.

The consistency of Body Shop communication messages

The central message that Body Shop is passing to its stakeholder is that of environmental consciousness. Most of the campaigns that the company does are intended to protect the environment. The social responsibility has remained consistent in its social values across the country and in selecting its business partners (Harrison & Wicks, 2013). The brand for fighting for the rights and interest of its stakeholder and it has shown that it can “walk the talk.” The campaign titled “Forever Against Animal Testing,” which is one of its major projects is intended was to run for two years through to 2019, and the message is consistent across the world.  

It must be noted that the company is communicating its various CSR programs differently. As such, stakeholders such as employees are addressed through the internal medium of communication such as a memo. For instance, when training and awareness program is scheduled on a particular date, the management informs respective staff members through memos.

Body Shop is equally known for using emails and letters to communicate with its suppliers regarding its CSR programs. The company communicates with its supplier by informing them of the need to form an economic partnership with local suppliers to ensure that they become economically self-sustaining (Doane & Abasta-Vilaplana, 2005). In every country that the company operates, it forms such a partnership, and this has reduced suppliers dependent on the big firms.

The message passed to consumers is that the products are of high quality that matches the value for money. The company communicates its low, but quality products in all its stores and customers who walk into any store are capable of enjoying such services or products. The message to consumers is consistent across Body Shop stores.   

Body Shop Company communicates a consistent message for each category of stakeholders being addressed. Consumers have their consistent high quality and low price message; suppliers have the consistent message on the economic partnership, environmental conservation is consistent across the globe, and that happens in all stakeholders. In overall, the message can be seen as championing for rights and interest of all its shareholders in the entire world.

Evaluation of Communication in Body Shop and Specific Recommendations

The decision to protect powerless animals has made Body Shop a unique company from the rest. As a firm dealing in cosmetics, using animals for testing cosmetics is the least expensive thing, but it chose the long and significantly expensive route of designing human skin ("About Us | The Body Shop", n.d.). What makes the company brand even more competitive in the entire industry is its choice of standing out from the crowd and adopting the most effective advertising and packaging that resonates with nearly all its stakeholders.

The idea of Body Shop was not realistic to most of the people and the few who believed thought it was green-washing. However, it turned out to be a smart strategy when L’Oreal acquired it at £652 million ("About Us | The Body Shop", n.d.). However, the success is attributed to the way the company has communicated its CSR programs and its innovative issues management moves. As such, the Body Shop brand has been accepted as a socially responsible firm.

Body Shop Company has adopted the use of social media, which is one of the effective ways of reaching out to consumers. The company’s Twitter and Facebook page are relatively active when compared to competitors such as Sephora and Origins. The social media platform for an interactive audience where the company can get and at the same time gives feedbacks regarding its programs (Jamali & Mirshak, 2007). Therefore, it demonstrates that the corporate communication used by the Body Shop is mostly successful.

Recommendation

The company intends to become the most ethical firm and unique sustainable business in the entire world. Some of the recommendations for the company include:

  • The company needs to reduce the marketing pounds for its campaigns and consider using several videos in all its stores and social media.
  • The company needs to adopt new social media platforms other than Facebook and Twitter. Other platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat have become equally favourite among its consumers and can increase campaign coverage.
  • The company needs to embrace new marketing strategies such as in-game advertising where the company campaigns can always pop up when playing video games.

Conclusion

Nearly every organization across the world is expected to take part in social responsibility. Consumers only prefer buying from companies that invest their resources in environmentally sound projects. CSR issues include the concerns that various stakeholders raise against concerning what the company does. For instance, when the activities of the company are harmful to the environment, the society is more likely to complain to the authority. Consequently, organizations are expected to understand some of the CSR issues and come up with the most effective issues management to ensure that there is no legitimacy gap left. Body Shop is an example of organizations that have been successful in protecting the interest and rights of its entire stakeholder through social responsibility products. It has effectively communicated its CSR programs through a different medium, and that has enhanced its competitive advantage.

References

About Us | The Body Shop. Retrieved from https://www.thebodyshop.com/en-gb/about-us?clear=true

Argenti, P. A., & Druckenmiller, B. (2004). Reputation and the corporate brand. Corporate reputation review, 6(4), 368-374.

Bowen, S. A., & Heath, R. L. (2005). Issues management, systems, and rhetoric: Exploring the distinction between ethical and legal guidelines at Enron. Journal of Public Affairs: An International Journal, 5(2), 84-98.

Brønn, P. S., & Brønn, C. (2002). Issues management as a basis for strategic orientation. Journal of Public Affairs, 2(4), 247-258.

Brown, J. A., & Forster, W. R. (2013). CSR and stakeholder theory: A tale of Adam Smith. Journal of business ethics, 112(2), 301-312.

Dahlsrud, A. (2008). How corporate social responsibility is defined: an analysis of 37 definitions. Corporate social responsibility and environmental management, 15(1), 1-13.

Doane, D., & Abasta-Vilaplana, N. (2005). The myth of CSR. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 3(3), 22-29.

Einwiller, S. A., & Johar, G. V. (2013). Countering accusations with inoculation: The moderating role of consumer-company identification. Public Relations Review, 39(3), 198-206.

Harrison, J. S., & Wicks, A. C. (2013). Stakeholder theory, value, and firm performance.Business Ethics Quarterly, 23(1), 97-124. doi:10.5840/beq20132314

Heath, R. L., & Palenchar, M. J. (2009). Strategic issues management: Organizations and public policy challenges. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Heath, R. L., & Palenchar, M. J. (2011). Corporate (Social) Responsibility and issues management: Motive and rationale for issue discourse and organizational change. The handbook of communication and corporate social responsibility, 315-337.

Jamali, D., & Mirshak, R. (2007). Corporate social responsibility (CSR): Theory and practice in a developing country context. Journal of business ethics, 72(3), 243-262.

Kent, A., & Stone, D. (2007). The Body Shop design: an evolving retail brand identity. Strategic Direction, 23(11), 9-11.

Martínez, J. B., Fernández, M. L., & Fernández, P. M. R. (2016). Corporate social responsibility: Evolution through institutional and stakeholder perspectives. European journal of management and business economics, 25(1), 8-14.

 Mohan, A. (2006). Global corporate social responsibilities management in MNCs. Journal of Business Strategies, 23(1), 9.

Nylander, S. (2010). Corporate social responsibility issues management at Vattenfall AB. Department of Earth Sciences, Air, Water, and Landscape Sciences. Uppsala University: Uppsala, Sweden

Oyvind, I., Bartlett, L., & May, S. (2014). Corporate social responsibility and communication. The handbook of communication and corporate social resposbiility, 1st ed. London: John wiley and sons.

Pollach, I., Johansen, T. S., Ellerup Nielsen, A., & Thomsen, C. (2012). The integration of CSR into corporate communication in large European companies. Journal of Communication Management, 16(2), 204-216.

Ranängen, H. (2017). Stakeholder management theory meets CSR practice in Swedish mining. Mineral Economics, 30(1), 15-29.

Zhang, X. A., & Borden, J. (2017). Linking Issue Management, Corporate Social Responsibility and Crisis Communication: Applying Balance Theory in Crisis and Issue Management. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 25(4), 209-222.

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