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While the "quality and the craftsmanship [of Tiffany & Co.'s products] must stand the test of time," the conscience of a socially responsible attitude towards its products becomes an even more important element in order to make the customers appreciate the true value of its offer.
The added value of an "industry leader" approach concerning the social responsibility issues involved by the industry is also a desired course of action, as it brings positive effects on the environment and the fulfillment of ethical promises by the company, its ambassadorship within the industry brings even greater environmental benefits, through a stronger alliance to lobby and fight for the environment.
From a business point-of-view, it brings Tiffany's a differentiation point, giving it a competitive advantage in front of its competitors, something that just working with price, placement, promotion and products (marketing mix elements) can not entirely achieve.
This brings us to the discussion of the last point of the assessment: to consider whether the chosen best course of action is also in the best long-term interest of the business, as a profit-seeking institution.
When addressing this issue, I would like to point out that environmental issues become every day more important and more visible at global level. More and more NGOs and other organizations unite their forces in order to bring people awareness about the harms industries and people themselves bring to the nature, and the long-term effects of such actions.
As Kowalski himself noted, it is not that people "don't care" about the environmental hazards produced by the companies, they just "aren't aware" of them.
But in a world where so many forces fight for increased awareness and actions regarding the dangers of industries on safekeeping the planet, it is just a question of time that companies that choose to protect the planet are going to become the top preference of conscious customers.
This is exactly where I believe the advantage for Tiffany & Co. approaching in a "green" manner the issue of their gold (and any other natural resources for that matter) sourcing will come on long-term.
With customers more aware of the positive and negative effects of industries on the planet, the choice will be directed towards environmentally responsible providers. Customers will not want to offer to their dear ones presents that are "stained" by conflicts or by natural disasters. They will be more careful when choosing where they buy from and this is where the long-term benefits (both brand-related and financial-related ones) will arise from.
It might translate into increased costs in order to insure that metals are from valid / "clean" sources, or higher costs incurred by the advertising in order to show this direction Tiffany & Co. has chosen to lead… it might foster more scrutiny towards the degree of "green" Tiffany applies in all its activities… it might raise some questions regarding the returns on investments for the shareholders, or it might raise the prices of its products… but in the end, it will make the mission of "bringing beauty into the lives of our customers" an unstained, beautifully kept promise… and why not, be able to truthfully say that "after more than a century of capturing the beauty of nature in its designs, the venerable American house is working to protect this source of inspiration" (Newman, 2006)
Business dictionary, Ethical Issue definition, retrieved online November 6, 2009 at http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/ethical-issue.html
Business dictionary, Fiduciary Duty definition, retrieved online November 6, 2009 at http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/fiduciary-duty.html
Gagnon, Geoffrey, Moving Mountains, Legal Affairs, Sept-Oct 2004, retrieved online November 6, 2009 at http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/September-October-2004/story_gagnon_sepoct04.msp
Kosich, Dorothy, And, now, a few words from Tiffany & Co, Mineweb, South Africa, November 11, 2004, retrieved online November 5, 2009 at http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page15831?oid=3232&sn=Detail
Newman, Jill, The Tiffany Standard, Robb Report -- Special 30th Anniversary Issue, Curt Co Robb Media, LLC, 2006, retrieved online November 6, 2009 at https://www.tiffany.com/shared/pdfs/Tiffany_RobbReport.pdf
Werther B. William, Chandler B. David, Strategic corporate social responsibility: stakeholders in a global environment, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2006, pp. 224-227[continue]
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