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Ethics and Social Responsibility - Case Study Example

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The firm has gone to great lengths to redesign its product offerings to be environmentally friendly; even going so far as to expend a great deal of…
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Ethics and Social Responsibility
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Section/# Nau – The Fastidiously Environmentally Conscious Retailer In terms of a business that strives to be ethical and responsible, it would be hard to imagine a better example than that of Nau. The firm has gone to great lengths to redesign its product offerings to be environmentally friendly; even going so far as to expend a great deal of money researching what specific textile threads have a lower impact on the environment while still providing cutting edge outdoor usage. In this way, Nau is far ahead of the competition in working to provide an environmentally conscious product in an ethical manner.
Likewise, the store has also heavily invested in making itself energy friendly by drastically reducing floor space. Whereas a typical retail outlet occupies a floor plan of over 4500 square feet, Nau is able to squeeze its product offerings into a minimal 2700 square feet; sometimes even less if one considers the kiosks (to be discussed next) as stores (DesMarteau, 2007).
Furthermore, the firm has also allocated 5% of all proceeds to be donated to charities that work to save and protect the environment. The firm refers to this practice as “aggressive altruism” and notes that most other firms consider 1% donated to charities to be the “gold standard” (Salkever, 2008). Although this serves to effect a higher price for the customers, it is doubtless that Nau has performed extensive market research and has determined that the target demographic it is appealing to finds this “aggressive altruism” to be a unique and endearing concept of how the firm does business.
Additionally Nau has employed the use of internet kiosks in which customers can try on an array of different clothing and then purchase it from a self serve internet enabled kiosk. This serves to drastically reduce necessary floor space as well as reduce the costs associated with having employees attending to the needs of each and every customer (O’Connell, 2007). However, this practice is not without its unique drawbacks as will be analyzed in the preceding paragraph.
It should be noted that although this has the benefit of providing the product to the customer at a lower cost and at a lower environmental impact, the tangential affect of this is that fewer jobs are available to the local economy. Therefore the increased profitability is not injected back into the community as with other similar retailers. Instead, this extra money that is saved on the general lack of store employees most likely finds its way into an increased bottom line for the firm.
Although this may seem to be an unimportant factor, the level and degree with which Nau makes itself a part of the community is as important a business metric as is its environmental responsibility. As such, it is of great importance that Nau assesses its low impact retailing under the lens of whether it truly wants to be considered a retail outlet or a type of internet store with a smattering of kiosks located in convenient locations. In this way, one might indeed question the social responsibility of Nau as it relates to the kiosk method of clothing purchases.
References
DesMarteau, K. (2007). Nau Trail Blazes with Unique Business Model. Apparel Magazine, 49(3), 6-8.
OConnell, A. (2007). Outdoor-apparel start-up CEO Chris Van Dyke on new ways to feed customers passions. Harvard Business Review, 85(9), 26.
Salkever, A. (2008). SHOULD NAUS CREATORS WALK AWAY OR TRY AGAIN?. Inc, 30(11), 62-65. Read More
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