As noted previously, IKEA’s CSR can be considered rather strategic and adding to value when viewed in the light of the frameworks of Porter & Kramer as well as Burke & Logsdon319. However, despite the wide scope of CSR activities undertaken at IKEA the visibility is surprisingly low. It is therefore interesting to investigate the underlying reason for this phenomenon, as a company which undertakes
strategic CSR according would be inclined to have a higher visibility.320
For this purpose, we will
look at IKEA’s marketing and communication. When it comes to CSR, marketing should not be
confused with communication.321
However, in order to provide a wider picture, we will also include
marketing as communication of CSR can be essential for marketing, brand and motivation of co- workers.
K.4.1 Using CSR in marketing As IKEA does not want to position itself as a CSR brand, we find that it does not use the integrated
approach, where brand and CSR brand operate in synchrony. Rather, its strategies are constituted by a mix of a selective and an invisible approach. The selective approach is characterized by strategic partnerships such as those IKEA has with NGOs. The NGOs then communicate the joint initiatives to the public, whilst IKEA on the other hand remains almost invisible and CSR has a minor role in external communication and initiatives322. However, IKEA opens up for a possible integrated approach. This is clear as one of the interviewees states that CSR could be a competitive advantage for retaining and gaining customers.323 However, CSR is not yet perceived as a key driver of consumer preference and this is why they have not opted for an integrated approach. Additionally, companies selling inexpensive products, such as U.K. budget garments retailer Primark, are often criticized for having a detrimental effect to the environment and society in the media.324 Subsequently, it could be expected of a large multi national company such as IKEA with an existing efficient CSR agenda, to communicate these initiatives to a greater extent and to have a very visible CSR profile in order to counter a potentially negative CSR image. However, the invisible approach is still a more valid approach for IKEA, as CSR is not considered as a key driver of consumption yet. Another favorable argument is that, according to IKEA, most of their customers perceive ”no news as good news”325.
K.4.2 Communication strategy Initially, IKEA did not communicate its CSR efforts in any way and did not engage in any
partnerships with NGOs.326 Nonetheless, it was forced to respond to NGO demands in light of scandals. When it started engaging in partnerships, it was in terms of finding out what needed to be changed and what expectations external stakeholders had on the organization. This resulted in the implementation of IWAY and other quality and safety standards. This shows that IKEA’s initial CSR communication efforts corresponded to the stakeholder response strategy. The partnerships have since intensified, so has the level of commitment and therefore we see that it has progressed towards
319 320 321 322 Porter, M. & Kramer, M. (2006). Burke, L. & Logsdon, J. (1996). Morsing, M. & Schultz, S. (2006). Interview, Hrdlickova, I., 2008-12-23, Interview Stål, E., 2008-05-13, Hansted Blomqvist, K. & Posner, S. (2004). Interview, Koerfer, S., 2008-10-22. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/chic--cheerful-but-not-so-great-for-the-environment-744752. Interview, Heidenmark-Cook, P., 2008-12-05. Interview, Koerfer, S., 2008-10-22. 323 324 325 326