How can growing companies like Fat Brain Toys build Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into their core strategies?

Mikaela Fernandez, Senior Consultant, Development3

A lot has changed since early CSR, which focused on philanthropy. Today, businesses are met with a different world, new opportunities and challenges. Understanding a company’s own societal role and influential power is decisive. This is why having a strong CSR strategy is more important now than ever before.

Successful companies often have one thing in common: they understand their customer’s needs and are able to provide what their customers want. They see their customer’s perspective. Fat Brain Toys is a manufacturer and retailer that specializes in developing educational toys and games. The privately-owned company was founded by Mark and Karen Carson and has grown significantly since its inception in 2002.

I came across the company’s website when looking for a gift for a family member and was pleasantly surprised! As an international customer (Sweden!), I can easily navigate to international shipping information and can even see prices in my local currency on their website. Perfect! The site provides several ways to search for the perfect toy while also learning more about them. Starting out as a small family firm, it’s clear that they really understand what customers need when it comes to shopping for toys online.

With the company having international reach and increased visibility, building and holding onto its identity is vital.  The current and next generation of customers care deeply about the brands they align with, just as much as the products or services they buy. A recent study about consumer behavior among Nordic European countriesfound that over 60% felt that sustainability affects their buying decisions. Another study confirms that consumers are showing increased awareness of environmental issues which affect their buying decisions. This development is not limited only to the Nordic European countries: An international study carried out by Unilever in 2017, argues that 53% of shoppers in the United Kingdom and 78% in the United States say that when they buy products that are sustainably produced, they feel better about their choice. This number was even higher in India, Brazil and Turkey.

These facts are not surprising, as companies are now expected to contribute to society and the environment in a meaningful way, which in addition to their financial performance and constitutes value. For this reason, committing to sustainable business has become a highly important competitive differentiator.

After looking through the Fat Brain Toys website, I found that that they support a foundation to battle pediatric brain cancer. This confirms their passion about children, and the mission completely aligns with their core business focus. Fat Brain toys is a strong example of a company that shows great potential in looking beyond their products and services to drive social impact.

As we know, rather than thinking of CSR and sustainability as marketing ploys, CSR, if done right, is primarily built into an existing company culture to drive social, environmental and business impact.

Here are  a few CSR and sustainability related opportunities that Fat Brain Toys should consider:

SUPPLY CHAIN

What I  really appreciate about Fat Brain Toys is their commitment to quality, but as an informed consumer I am also interested in how they ensure their suppliers meet demands while providing quality products. Making this information more visible is a great way to ensure customers that quality also comes with responsibility. Parents should always care about the health and safety of their children, and this is particularly true within the current and next generation of parents. They want to know where products come from, how they are made, and of course if they are safe.  As tedious as it may seem, if people are aware of how the supply chain works – they are more likely to want to buy.

TRANSPARENCY 

I learned from the Fat Brain Toys website that they have grown extensively over the past few years. With growth comes increased brand awareness. What is the company doing to show customers that it operates in an ethical way? This could be assessed and made more visible for customers to also show commitment to ethical practices that at the same time strengthen brand loyalty and engagement.

PRODUCT MATERIAL AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Plastic is a hot topic nowadays, and for valid reasons. People are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of plastic and other material in products. The European Commission is aiming for all plastic packaging to be recyclable by 2030 as a part of their EU strategy. Companies should make sure that they are doing all they can to embrace the concept of circular economy. By acknowledging, incorporating and demonstrating such a commitment, Fat Brain Toys could reinforce their reputation among the current and next generation of parents.

In summary, here are a few opportunities that companies like Fat Brain Toys should consider:

  • Explain the Chain: By illustrating how the supply chain works, customers are more likely to align with the company’s honest and transparent approach to manufacturing.
  • Showcase your Ethics: How does the company contribute to their community? How is their business not only profitable, but also meaningful? By showing that the company not only understands their own role and influential power, but also recognizes this in a responsible way adds value to their business that makes shopping a meaningful experience for their customers.
  • Review How Products are Made: Companies that assess their resource loops and place emphasis on manufacturing in a sustainable way, benefit both internally and externally. Internally, decision-making is refined, processes become more efficient and manufacturing costs are reduced. Externally, customers are better informed, a competitive advantage is built, and industry leaders sit up and take note.

If you would like to learn more about what Development3 is doing in the CSR world, feel free to connect with us: info@development3.com

[DISCLAIMER: I have not worked for nor been in association with Fat Brain Toys. I used face-value information from the Fat Brain Toys website, social media, annual reports and news statements for this article]

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