Sample Proposal on Chiquita Banana’s CSR Activity and Brand Perception

Introduction

Chiquita embarked on a journey to fulfill its corporate social responsibilities. As a result, they were awarded a certificate by the Rainforest Alliance due to their banana plantations. However, this achievement affected brand perceptions among United Kingdom customers. The same response was witnessed in Switzerland as consumers wrote joint letters of complaint (Wicki and Kaaji, 2007). This research plan will therefore discuss corporate social responsibilities, with focus on the various activities that Chiquita undertook to fulfill corporate social responsibilities. It will also discuss how the enterprise would meet and fulfill its corporate social responsibilities without adversely affecting brand perceptions among consumers. Thus, the research plan will define and discuss brand perceptions and loyalty based on the case of the enterprise.

Literature Overview

Corporate Social Responsibilities

Firms strive to identify broad agendas on social, economic, political, and environmental levels aimed at improving communities while gaining a competitive advantage. However, the effectiveness of achieving, balancing, and sustaining corporate social responsibilities and competitive advantage is lacking. According to Michael and Mark, this can be attributed to two reasons. The foremost reason concerns firms’ assumptions that business activities are always affecting communities adversely. Thus, they strive to maintain their economic business activities separately from corporate social responsibilities. However, they ought to acknowledge that societies and business activities are interdependent. Commercial activities among corporations are conducted in generic ways aligned with solutions of societal issues. However, corporations ought to understand that commercial and societal efforts should be linked to achieve company and community strategies. Thus, corporations ought to be more effective and less defensive with regards to corporate social responsibilities. They should adopt a position linked between corporate and social cultures. As a result, they can adopt interesting, responsive, and balanced corporate social responsibilities, encouraging commercial and societal growth and development (Michael and Mark, 2006).

Chiquita is acknowledged as a global brand as it is a multinational corporation manufacturing, distributing, and selling fruits, including bananas. As a result, it employs more than twenty thousand employees, while operating more than one hundred and twenty banana plantations. The farms are located in Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, and Latin America (Wicki and Kaaji, 2007). Various factors can be identified in the corporation’s efforts towards meeting and fulfilling corporate social responsibilities. Firstly, it provides housing services among all employees. Secondly, it provides thousands of employment opportunities, reducing rates of joblessness and the evil vices associated with unemployment. Consequently, it has a huge influence on the local and national political issues as it invested millions to develop the region. As a result, infrastructures were erected and farms, schools, hospitals, shipping ports, and houses built. This provided the Chiquita Brand with massive influence potential to control, monitor, and manipulate business practices in the region. As a result, it was referred to as “Octopus” (Sandra, Charles and Graves, 2002).

Brand Perceptions

Brand reputation and competition are closely related as they evaluate how consumers perceive or judge the product or service. Frustrations among consumers reflect on negative brand perceptions. This can be attributed by lack of control within the firm to ensure products and services provided to the market are high quality and standardized to meet and fulfill consumers’ needs, desires, wants, and desires. Focusing on the right strategies in order to be consistent can achieve positive brand perceptions. This involves paying attention to the packaging, pricing, modes of advertisement, marketing, promotion, and distribution to improve the overall brand image (Dennery, 2010).

With regards with Chiquita Brands, trying to achieve its corporate social responsibilities affected the brand perceptions. The corporation had invested time and financial assets in attempts and efforts to build and ensure the brand perceptions were positive. Liz Dennery asserts that, brand attributes refer to adjectives or descriptions applied to define a product or brand. The qualities applied ought to ensure the brand’s collateral, marketing and promotional materials are truly represented. Chiquita Brands however suffered from negative brand perceptions. This occurred after 2002 when the company got involved in corporate social responsibilities with the Rainforest Alliance (Dennery, 2010).

The Rainforest Alliance represents a non-profit organization with headquarters based in New York founded in 1987. It was established to conserve biodiversity and sustain livelihoods through social and environmental transformations. Land use and business practices coupled with consumer behaviors had to be transformed to ensure environmental groups globally are friendly and sustainable. The organization also undertakes agricultural conservation programs and activities mainly in coffee, cocoa, citrus, flowers, ferns, and banana farms. Chiquita Brands therefore purchased commitments for the Rainforest Alliance to certify the banana agricultural products farms (Marco, 2003).

In 2002, banana farms in Latin America owned by Chiquita Brands International Inc including other subsidiaries were all certified. The certification procedure however was unclear as there lacked identification of parties involved in shaping the certification criteria. As a result, the seal of approval lacked legal credibility and strength. Consequently, it could not guarantee consumers that the products they were purchasing for consumption from Chiquita Brands were high quality, standardized, safe, and healthy. More so, Chiquita Brands could not affirm was involved in sustaining ecological, social, and economic conditions in the region. The public therefore could not generate a credible criterion affirming the alliance between Chiquita Brands and Rainforest Alliance was positive based on the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance (ISEAL) (Ventura, 2007).

Proposed Methodology

Saunders’ Research Onion

This is a generic research process applied to assist analysts represent issues during data collection. Saunders asserted that, there are various stages undertaken in the research union. They include philosophies, strategies, approaches, choices, procedures, techniques, and time horizons. Thus, the research union relies on various layers to provide a core solution based on step by step methods. Philosophy represents the first and crucial stage as it forms knowledge on the character being developed (Alfsen and Kolshus, 2013). With regards to Chiquita Brands International Inc it is referenced that, it was launched in 1899 under United Fruits Company. Thus, it has existed for more than one hundred years influencing working and living conditions within the Chiquita country. Various factors can be identified as the corporation’s efforts towards meeting and fulfilling corporate social responsibilities. For example, it provides housing services among all employees. It also provides thousands of employment opportunities reducing rates of joblessness and the evil vices associated with unemployment. More so, it has a huge influence on the local and national political issues as it invested millions to develop the region. Based on Saunders’ Research Onion methodology, the brand can be described as highly evolving as it strives to meet and fulfill social, economic, and environmental roles.

Research approach refers to methods applied to create knowledge to enhance understanding of an issue. This research plan applies journal articles providing historical facts about corporate social responsibilities with regards to Chiquita International Inc (Alfsen and Kolshus, 2013). For example, the subject erected farms, schools, hospitals, shipping ports, and houses among other infrastructures in attempts to control, monitor, and manipulate business practices in Chiquita region. Thus, it strives to achieve its corporate social responsibilities in order to affect the brand perceptions positively. However, it is evident it has suffered from negative brand perceptions as reported in 2002 when the company got involved in corporate social responsibilities with the Rainforest Alliance.

Conversely, research strategy refers to particular plans of action shaping how the proposal plan ought to proceed. Thus, it ensures the proposal mentions or indicates methods and techniques of gathering data to be used (Alfsen and Kolshus, 2013). The data to be used in discussing Chiquita, corporate social responsibilities, and brand perceptions was based on the facts gathered from its collaborations with Rainforest Alliance. Thus, the research strategy applied in this proposal plan is based on action and archival research. This ensures the proposal identifies that Chiquita faced issues with regards to corporate social responsibilities and negative brand perceptions.

Ethical Issues

Various relevant ethical issues affect research of Chiquita International Inc while discussing corporate social responsibilities and brand perceptions. Foremost, it is crucial to ascertain the firm and Rainforest Alliance engage in business practices and consumer behaviors aimed at transforming and sustaining environments. Although Marco (2003) asserts Rainforest Alliance undertakes agricultural conservation programs, it is challenging to confirm as the organization has been involved in various legal suits. This research proposal therefore faces ethical issues aligned towards affirming that, both Chiquita International Inc and Rainforest Alliance undertake their roles effectively and efficiently.

Limitations of Approach

Based on the ethical issues discussed above, various limitations can be highlighted. Foremost, it is challenging to acquire primary data on first time and hand basis. Thus, the proposal cannot rely on data collected from respondents directly. Although acquisition of primary data can be time consuming, it is presents more accurate and reliable results. Thus, the plan relies on secondary data acquired from other sources including journal articles. It is therefore possible the research proposal may be marred with biases. This is because different researchers have differing research philosophies, strategies, and approaches influencing their perceptions and conclusions on the research choice.

Various journal articles assert that, annual inspections of farms aimed at ensuring Chiquita Corporation increases compliance levels maintaining the certification criteria. As a result, agricultural products from the farms would be certified as safe and healthy for consumption. However, the firm could not amend the negative reputations claiming Chiquita violated environmental conditions and workers rights. As a researcher therefore, it is possible lack transparency when data collection method involve believing and trusting a third party or secondary information.

Timeline

Saunders’ Research Onion asserts that, time horizons ought to be fixed to ensure the task is completed. This research proposal was planned and prepared based on a fixed timeline aligned to cross sectional study. Thus, longitudinal timeline could not be applied as the research does not involve collection of primary data. Consequently, it does not involve relying on observations, interviews, and questionnaires to gather information, plan, and prepare the proposal plan.

Recommendations

Based on facts acquired from secondary data, Chiquita Brands International Inc. should have acknowledged that a corporate social responsibility role is aligned with cultural, political, environmental, and economic strategies. It should have ensured that the corporation’s culture, with regards to a corporate social responsibility role, is oriented towards leadership, ethics, honor, and authenticity. The decision making procedure while seeking the Rainforest Alliance collaboration should have been based on rules, principles, consistence with the firm’s practices, and management styles. The relationship developed between Chiquita Brands International Inc and Rainforest Alliance should have, therefore, been based on serious and sincere intentions to meet and fulfill corporate social responsibilities. Consequently, Chiquita Brands International Inc would have been recognized as a reputable, consistent, respected, true, loyal, and trusted brand in order to sustain the positive brand perception (Gonzalez and McDonough, 2005).

Conclusion

Corporate social responsibilities are key factors influencing the growth and development of a small, medium, and large firm, organization, or corporation. However, firms are yet to master the art of achieving, balancing, and sustaining corporate social responsibilities and commercial activities. They mainly focus on commercial activities hoping that small scale activities aimed at achieving corporate social responsibilities can amend the negative reputation. For example, they can engage in highly pollutant activities throughout the year and spend one week cleaning up rivers and collecting garbage. The attempts are aimed at denying that the firm is responsible for conservation and preservation of ecological and environmental conditions in the community. However, firms ought to understand that corporate social responsibilities ought to be undertaken in equal measure as commercial activities. This can improve the firm’s reputation, enhance socioeconomic practices, and achieve positive brand perceptions. Thus, corporations should neither assume nor neglect their corporate social responsibility roles in small scale measures; they should participate in this role as much commercial practices.

 

References

Alfsen, K. & Kolshus, H., 2013. How to Choose a Research Methodology? School of Business, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland.

Dennery, L., 2010. Influencing Brand Perception: What ARE People Saying About You? SheBrandBuilding Inc Report.

Gonzalez, M. & McDonough, T., 2005. Bananas Ethical Quality: Multi-stakeholders, Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance, CISC Working Paper, 21(1): 1-18.

Marco,W., 2003. Implement Corporate Social Responsibility: The Chiquita Case, Journal of Business Ethics, 44(1): 247 – 260.

Michael, P. & Mark, K., 2006. The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility, Harvard Business Review, 1-15.

Sandra, W., Charles, B. & Graves, B., 2002. Responsibility: The New Business Imperative. Academy of Management Executive Review, 16(1): 133-148.

Ventura, F., 2007. Examining the Rainforest Alliance’s Agricultural Certification Robustness, University of California.

Wicki, S. & Kaaji, J., 2007. In Practice: Is it True Love Between the Octopus and the Frog? How to Avoid the Authenticity Gap, Corporate Reputation Review, 10(4): 312-318.