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How Can Corporate Social Responsibility Help Your Restaurant’s Sales?
April 03, 2018
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How Can Corporate Social Responsibility Help Your Restaurant’s Sales?

As a restaurant owner,  your inbox and various feeds are probably inundated with content about how to attract millennial customers to your business.

And rightfully so. There nearly 80 million millennials living in the United States alone, making them the largest living generation since the boomers.

In fact, millennials exercise an estimated $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. While this generation is typically criticized for their quirks, business owners have been scrambling to absorb insights about millennials in hopes of tearing off even the smallest piece of the trillion dollar pie.

Amongst the laundry list of behaviors and stereotypes you’ll read about millennials, one of the most endearing is that they value corporate social responsibility and brand activism. Simply put, millennials want to see the businesses they buy from use their profits and power to make the world a better place.

In this post, we’ll explore corporate social responsibility and brand activism in the restaurant industry, including examples of businesses leading the charge and ways you can integrate a socially conscious strategy into your operations.

Corporate Social Responsibility & Millennial Consumers

In a 2015 study conducted by Cone Communications, researchers analyzed the relationship between millennial buying behavior and CSRs. Here’s what they found:

CONE-COMM
Source: CONE 

Supporting charitable organizations and promoting socially or environmentally aware causes is no longer just good for your soul, it’s also beneficial to your bottom line.

Corporate charitable donations are also tax deductible when made to a non-profit organization that satisfies the IRS’ requirements for recognition.

In another 2015 study, The Nielsen Company focused on analyzing the relationship between consumer behavior and social/environmental sustainability. They found that 75 percent of the global millennial population is willing to pay more for sustainable products, and 66 percent of the global millennial population are willing to pay more to support brands “committed to a positive social and environmental impact”.

Those looking to cash in on millennial consumers’ CSR support should pay attention to another statistic from Cone’s study: 82 percent of respondents say if a company makes social and environmental commitments, they hold the business accountable for producing and communicating results.

Millennials are savvy shoppers, they won’t fall for a smoke and mirrors approach to CSR or brand activism. In fact, 88 percent of survey respondents say if they learned of a company’s irresponsible or deceptive business practices, they would stop buying its products.  Businesses can’t just talk the talk, they’ve got to walk the walk, too!

Corporate Social Responsibility in Action

If you’re interested in expanding your restaurant’s socially conscious footprint but don’t know where to begin, reflect on the causes that matter to you, or have the greatest impact on your community.

Not ready to make the plunge in re-orienting your business’ operations around a charitable cause?  Try testing the waters with an events, promotion, or social media campaign.

For example, one night a month, tell guests that a portion of their bill will be donated to a local charity. You can also invite local non-profits representatives to your restaurant to speak with customers about their cause. Then, donate a portion of your profits that day to their organization.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, here are some restaurants and brands in the food-service industry making our world a better, brighter, more beautiful place.

Tito’s VodkaVodka For Dog People

Supporting animal rescue shelters and organizations is a cause near and dear to Tito’s Vodka Founder Tito Beveridge’s heart. Tito’s beloved dog, Jo, is a rescue, and played an instrumental role in supporting him as he got his business off the ground. Located outside Austin, TX on 12 acres in “the boonies” of Travis, TX, the Tito’s distillery has become a haven for the high number of abandoned, runaway, and homeless dogs in the area. Though they do focus on helping these stray pups find their forever homes, the Tito’s team loves having these four legged friends wandering around while they work.

Vodka For Dog People was started by Tito’s “to unite with our friends, fans, and partners to better the lives of pets and their families far and wide.” They sell apparel, dog toys, calendars, dog accessories, with net proceeds donated to Emancipet, a non-profit organization that provides affordable veterinary care to pet owners.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns [Tarrytown, NY ] Sustainable Agriculture & Education

A four season working farm and education center, The Stone Barns Center is creating a culture of consciousness and leading the conversation around the need for a more sustainable food system. In addition,  they provide in-season locally, sustainably grown ingredients for an upscale dining experience.

Guests at Blue Hill Barn enjoy dishes and drinks sourced from in-season ingredients grown on site at The Stone Barns Center. Stone Barns offers educational programs for beginning farmers, high school students, and anyone else looking to learn more about sustainable agriculture and why food matters.

Toast POSNo Kid Hungry

Toast is an all-in-one point of sale and restaurant management system. Built specifically for restaurants on an affordable cloud-based platform, Toast offers advanced functionality including table-side ordering, quick menu modifications, real-time enterprise reporting, online ordering, and labor management on an easy-to-use interface.

Noting many of their customers were using  a function on checks that enables guests to “round-up” their tip to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to No Kid Hungry, Toast wanted to get involved.

Toast POS decided to partner with No Kid Hungry, utilizing  their Food Cost Calculator. The company decided to donate $5 for every email address input into the calculator.  This amounted to 50 healthy breakfasts for a child at school.

Mei MeiSupporting Local, Sustainable Agriculture

Mei Mei is a dumpling lovers dreamland that started as a food truck run by two Boston Based Chinese-American siblings, and has since expanded into a brick and mortar location in downtown Boston.

Mei Mei values sustainable agriculture and supports local farms by only purchasing locally sourced ingredients and produce.

Patrons can dine knowing their delicious dumplings are supporting the local economy and making a positive impact on the environment.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill Dough Rai$ers

Rather than choosing one cause to focus on, Uno supports them all.

Through their Dough Rai$ers Program, Uno locations across the country encourage organizations in their local communities to host a lunch, dinner, or both and earn up to 20 percent of sales generated that day. To date, they’ve contributed more than $4 million to charitable organizations.

Be The Change You Wish To See

If you want to  expand your restaurant’s charitable contributions, start small.  You could host a food drive, and keep a collection box in your restaurant’s entryway so patrons can contribute.

Another idea is to start a “charity of the month” program where you donate a portion of your monthly sales to your selected charity. Ask your staff to suggest new charities so that your  business can support a wide range of causes, and your staff feels personally connected to the program.

As Mother Teresa said, “In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Amanda is a Content Marketing Specialist at Toast. Mixing her background in digital marketing with her years of experience living the #serverlife, Amanda whips up easy-to-digest tidbits for the Toast Blog and beyond.
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