In 2013/ 14 Schlange & Co. conducted its 3rd study concerning the competency of the FMCG industry and retail companies with regard to their CSR communication at the point of sale (“PoS”). All three studies have been sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.
The objective of the studies has been to evaluate the ability of sales clerks for providing relevant information at the PoS about CSR characteristics of particular products and their respective value chains. In addition, the findings were compared to the official CSR claims made by the companies involved. This year’s study resumed and expanded on the 2010 and 2011 studies which covered the German market only.
The 2014 study covered the fast food, food retail, and textile industries in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the UK. Furthermore, customers’ expectations for product specific CSR communication were identified. The results were compared with the CSR managers’ aspirations and the companies’ CSR communication at corporate level. The companies analyzed in this study include Auchan, Carrefour, Coop Sverige, H&M, ICA, Jerónimo Martins, McDonald's, Real, Rewe, Sainsbury's, Subway, Tesco, and Zara in all countries or only in those where they had operations, i.e. food retailers.
The overall study results show that consumers who are looking for particular CSR information at the PoS concerning a product, its respective value chain, and/ or the corporate CSR performance based on which they want to make their buying decision will most likely be dissatisfied.
However, interviews with consumers at the PoS also show that the majority is still not interested in specific CSR information concerning a product, its value chain or the company. Nevertheless, the general and growing opinion, not only among NGOs, consumer protection organizations, and the like, but also in these industries, suggest that companies are responsible for providing relevant CSR information at shop floor and corporate level.
This development has been confirmed by all companies analyzed in this study. Accordingly, they are increasingly investing in the training of their personnel and are also trying to sensitize consumers to CSR.