I recently read that 87% of global consumers believe businesses should place equal weight on both societal and business issues. Suffice to say, then, the better a brand brings its societal purpose to life in everyday operations, the more successful both its business and social impact will be.
These days, marketing is moving away from functionality and price, benefits and product features. More and more, brands have identified that social, environmental and ethical principles are important in business development and longevity.
Without a CSR policy being implemented properly and – more importantly – communicated effectively to its audience, a brand is likely to fall behind its competitors.
Brand loyalty is incredibly fickle, shifting with the fashions and fads of the day. If a brand can remain ‘in fashion’ it stands a chance of retaining a ‘loyal’ base. In truth, though, this loyalty is paper thin. Other brands will build a base of followers based solely on price and ease of purchase. Again, though, this is easily lost when competitors undercut or even just price match.
The Meaningful Brand Index recently reported that 73% of all brands could disappear and consumers wouldn’t care.
Yet, it’s ‘caring’ that is the key element. If a company can demonstrably show that it does care, then it will appeal to those who share in their cause. It doesn’t really matter what the cause is, as long as there are enough consumers out there concerned about particular topics to build a sizeable and loyal customer base.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream regularly change the causes they get behind and often have differing ones running concurrently, or even simultaneously, in varying locations or regions. What they do brilliantly is to empower their staff to get behind individual causes, and then communicate those efforts to their customer base exceptionally well.
Tom’s – the one-for-one shoe company – gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair they sell. They have now expanded their giving to include sight, clean water and safer birth initiatives. One Water is a bottled water brand that gives its profits to fund the provision of clean water in the world’s poorest communities.
These are, of course, the high profile success stories that have gone full steam ahead into their cause-driven social messaging. Without having done so, how would they or even could they have set themselves apart? Ice cream, shoes and water are hardly niche areas – these are sectors dominated by some of the largest companies in the world, and yet these three examples have broken through.
Businesses, large and small, must now demonstrate – more than ever – that they are striving towards a better world, socially and or environmentally. Promotional merchandise, as I’ve said many times before, is a perfect medium through which to demonstrate this. On the flip side, I’m afraid those that are still giving away Far East made ‘tat’ that has no purpose or function will be seen as the problem. Our industry, in the eyes of many, is seen as incredibly wasteful –it’s the truth, and someone has to say it. The way to counter this is to show we care and recommend to marketers that they take a green or ethical alternative – and make a point of communicating that to their customers.
In case you were wondering…I do wear Tom’s shoes, I try to avoid bottled water whenever possible and occasionally enjoy a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
Originally featured in PPD Magazine June 2016 (page 16) – http://www.ppda.co.uk/pubs/PPD-issue0073-June2016.pdf