Co-operatives and mutuals must not be shy about trading off their principles, Nigel Waite of the Canford Centre for Customer Development told the ICMIF conference. “Let’s not be shy about the co-operative advantage,” he urged.
“Values-based principles resonate with this time,” said Waite. “It’s time for mutuals and co-operatives.”
However, said Waite, consumers demand more than principles – this has to be attached to good practice. “Consumers are unwilling to trade-off CSR [corporate social responsibility] for product quality, or service,” he said.
But co-operatives should not be shy of marketing themselves as agents of good, argued Waite. “It’s ok to make CSR part of your marketing strategy. The ultimate test of your CSR activities must be about it changing customer behaviour. Do customers stay with you longer?
“How you deal with customers, how you deal with their claims, has a huge multiplier on customer behaviour.”
Waite urged ICMIF members to adopt what he referred to as the seven disciplines for delivering profits through values-based strategies. The principles are:
• Awareness of innovation for the public good
• Put people at the centre
• Spread economic opportunity
• Engage in new alliances
• Be performance driven in everything
• Practice superior governance
• Pursue purpose beyond profit.