MELBOURNE: Brands in Australia are not only wasting millions of dollars on their CSR and sustainability communications, but are failing to get a competitive advantage with a new wave of younger consumers who expect companies to do good.

According to Cavill + Co, a Victoria-based communications and marketing consultancy, just 13% of Australians trust what they read in a company's CSR or sustainability report and two-thirds (66%) believe companies only care about profits.

In "Talking the Walk", a report based on three years of research, founder Hailey Cavill says most companies are failing to communicate CSR and social good that resonates with consumers.

She argues that effective communication makes the difference between CSR being dismissed as a warm gesture to being accepted as an investment for competitive advantage.

Cavill told Pro Bono Australia News that poor communication was to blame, especially as consumers have become more savvy about marketing techniques.

"Communication from companies is not getting through because in this day and age consumers don't have to listen to what companies are saying, they can create their own content, and they're choosing their own communication mechanisms," she said.

"Corporate social responsibility and social good isn't getting through… because there's high levels of scepticism, there's low trust. It's just really, really hard for companies these days to get the message through."

She urged corporate Australia to overcome its ingrained instinct to "hide behind corporate affairs" and instead become more courageous – and interesting – in their CSR communications.

"In this day and age everyone's getting all their information off social media and it's all about entertaining, emotive content, and when you look at corporate communications it's not emotive, it's not entertaining, it's not even interesting, it's boring."

Data sourced from Cavill + Co, Pro Bono Australia; additional content by Warc staff