Coca-Cola is giving back — water, that is. Ten years ago, the company pledged to replenish all of the water it used in its finished beverages. And it has now completed that goal about five years early.
But not everyone is impressed. Advocacy groups have criticized Coca-Cola for only replenishing the water used in its finished beverages, and not the water that it used in the manufacturing process. In the past, groups have also accused Coca-Cola of unethically taking water from communities that were already experiencing water shortages.
The company says that it will continue its water replenishment program, despite completing the original effort early. But will it be enough to actually help the company’s image?
Since the company has received criticism about its water use in the past, consumers and advocacy groups were likely to put any charitable efforts in that area under a lot of scrutiny. Only giving back some of the water used, even though that technically fulfilled the company’s promise, makes the effort look like nothing more than a PR ploy. And groups have called the company out on it.
Watch Out for the Pitfalls of Corporate Social Responsibility
The company’s current predicament illustrates the danger of underestimating your customers and their expectations. The internet provides customers with access to huge amounts of information and gives them the ability to share it immediately. That means businesses can’t just assume their charitable efforts and PR pushes will be taken at face value. Customers are going to look into them. So in your own business make sure everything you do to build your brand can stand up to close examination and you’ll avoid the pitfalls of corporate social responsibility.