Social responsibility has become all but a requirement for companies and cause-related marketing has grown into a popular strategic marketing and public relations tool for corporations and charities alike. Studies show that consumers are increasingly social conscious and are looking to support companies that share in the goal of building a better world.
A recent survey from the marketing agency Good.Must.Grow (GMG) found that most Americans care about buying products from companies that do good in the world; 60 percent of people said that buying goods from socially‐responsible companies is important to them and 30 percent of respondents said that they expect to increase the amount of goods and services they buy from socially‐responsible companies over the next year. It’s apparent that consumers are willing to switch brands in order to buy from companies that have positive Corporate Social Responsibility efforts and companies are more than ever aware of this fact.
GMG has done two pieces of research – one on Cause Marketing and the other on Sustainability. While these types of initiatives are fundamentally different, addressing both concepts within the business process can help a company enhance or create new approaches to connect with consumers and even engage a workforce.
Successful sustainable brands demonstrate performance, but also show success against environmental and social criteria. This concern for “people, planet, and profits,” known as the triple bottom line, has increasingly become the standard for any brand that claims to be sustainable.
Think of the great brands that do this already: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and LUSH. The ranks of businesses that are certified B Corps are growing quickly! B Corp certified businesses are proving that doing good is good for business.
Transparency has always been a critical component of communications, but as the world becomes ever more connected, it has become increasingly important. Today, consumers heavily rely on the opinions and recommendations of their peers when making purchasing decisions, they extensively research companies before becoming brand loyal and they are more inclined to buy from companies that produce goods and services with real rather than perceived value. This is particularly true of Generation Z, an almost completely social and mobile generation that will seek out social media and peer reviews and demand that companies be more honest and transparent than ever before. They want to put their money where it matters!
Companies can no longer just claim that their products have positive impact and call it a day. Consumers want to know that companies:
- Are honest and transparent about its business practices and manufacturing processes;
- Make products that do not negatively impact people, animals or the environment;
- Ensure that its suppliers respect human rights; and
- Pay employees competitive wages and benefits.
According to GMG, 63 percent of people trust company claims about social responsibility only sometimes – but they verify information, by reading product packaging, checking out the news, and doing independent research. Due to this now crowded environment, companies must work harder to communicate how their products and business processes fit sustainable demands.
Companies must have a conscience and contribute to building a better world. If done and communicated correctly, it will demonstrate impact, connect more deeply with consumers and be a form of transparency at its finest.