Why sustainability is key
Nowadays, one of the most desired attributes of a brand is social responsibility. In Nielsen’s Global Corporate and Sustainability report, it was stated that 66% of people said that they would be happy to spend more on a product if it came from a sustainable brand. If sustainability isn’t a attribute shown by many large corporations then surely it must be difficult to have while being financially successful. Well, that isn’t the case.
TOMS® are a global shoe company that was founded by a man called Blake Mycoskie. While he was travelling around Argentina in 2006, he noticed that very few people were able to afford shoes. So, he decided that he wanted to do something about it and started TOMS®. Although the business was created for profit, for every single pair of shoes sold, one pair goes to a child to protect their feet. This was called the One For One™ campaign. Using his experience to fuel his creativity and drive for his business, Blake went on to then start TOMS® Eyewear and similarly, for every pair of glasses bought, another will go to someone in need.
“I was so overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people, especially those who had so little, and I was instantly struck with the desire — the responsibility — to do more.”
Although 50% of their stock is given away, TOMS® is now worth a staggering $400 million and Blake has made sure that, no matter the size of the company, philanthropy will remain its core mission.
Because of examples like this, millennial’s have grown up expecting the same from other companies. 81% of millennial’s expect brands to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship, which is setting the standards for companies wanting to win over the newest generations. Customers are starting to want to see the people behind the brand and expect to see their personalities shining through to the products or services they are offering. Long are the days of focusing purely on sales but on how reliable and trust worthy the company is. Failing to deliver sustainability promises has such a large impact on a business that they never take the idea of sustainability lightly. Now, due to the power of social media, any articles about brands making any ethical mistakes are shared instantly and very publicly. But, in reverse, any brands making memorable sustainability strides are equally highlighted and shared. Therefore, making a strong sustainability plan is becoming more and more important.
Another benefit is a little bit of diversity. Every unoccupied space and silent moment is taken up by an advert, you could drive along the road with an advert in the radio and the exact same advert being on a billboard in front of you. Wouldn’t it be nice to advertise differently? Isn’t shouting about the fact for every bottle of water purchased you donate 10p to a charity building water wells in 3rd world countries be better advertising than a 10 second advert on the television? Advertising differently to every other company would make everybody remember you and your ethical promise, building trust and respect between you and your customers. Don’t believe me? In a recent Unilever report it was revealed that 21% of people said that they would be more likely to purchase a product if their sustainability credentials were made clear on the packaging and in their marketing.
To be socially responsible, do you need to give away products?
No. You can become a more ethical company however you like. Whether that’s volunteering as a company, sponsoring a charity event or doing something completely different like providing scholarships to underprivileged teens. Make your sustainability plan as personal to your company as you can so that people can remember it easily. Maybe do it within your local community so that they can get involved. Customers love to get involved with projects as they love to get involved and give back. It also builds a positive relationship and word of mouth will help organically share the news of your sustainability changes within your business building credibility.