It’s a trend that has been growing over the past decade. People are increasingly looking for brands to do more than just make products that they can buy and throw away.
“We have a lot of consumers who want to know what a brand stands for,” says “They want to know what they stand for.”
— Karen Finerman, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
And the fact that the environmental and social issues are becoming more important to consumers has brands scrambling to do more to make their products more sustainable.
For example, Levi Strauss & Co. has been working to reduce its carbon footprint by switching to more sustainable cotton. The company has also partnered with the Sierra Club to develop a sustainable denim collection.
“It’s a very important initiative for us,” says Jill Wasielewski, Levi’s spokeswoman. “We are committed to doing more and more.”
It’s not just Levi’s that is taking steps to address environmental issues. A recent study by Accenture found that a majority of people surveyed believe that their brands should take action to protect the environment.
“You have to be careful about what you say,” says John Sperling, the president of the Institute for the Future. “It’s a tricky issue.”
The 2018 Accenture study (From me to we: The rise of the purpose-led brand) found that people want brands to take action on social issues. The study found that a majority of consumers are buying from companies that take a stand on issues they care about and ditching those that don’t.
The study also points out that consumers are no longer making decisions based solely on product selection or price; they’re assessing what a brand says, what it does and what it stands for. They support companies whose brand purpose aligns with their beliefs. And they reject those that don’t, with one in five walking away forever.
“People are more interested in what a brand stands for on health and wellness,” Sperling says. “They want to know what a brand stands for on mental health.”
— John Sperling, the president of the Institute for the Future.
In another recent survey of more than 2,000 people conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores, 72% of respondents said that they want their favourite brands to take action on issues that affect their health.
The survey found that the top three issues that people want their favourite brands to address are food and beverage sustainability, animal welfare and the environment.
People want brands with a social impact mission.
Consumers are really looking for brands to make a difference. Caldwell pointed out that people want to know that the brands they love are doing more. And the great news for marketers is the consumers are willing to pay more for a brand that has a clear policy on sustainability or providing social impact.
“We want to know that our favourite brands are making an effort to address the social and environmental issues that are important to us,”
— Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at the research firm Forrester.
Companies that have a clear policy on sustainability can expect to see an increase in sales.
The new study from Cone Communications found that consumers are willing to pay more for a brand that has a clear policy on sustainability or providing social impact.
“Consumers are more concerned than ever about the impact their purchases have on the environment and the communities in which they live,”
— Kim Jackson, vice president of global brand strategy at Cone Communications.
The Cone study shows that when brands are transparent about their policies and share their sustainability stories, they can build trust and drive sales.” The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers found that more than half (52 percent) of consumers are willing to pay more for a brand that has a clear policy on sustainability or providing social impact. Consumers are also willing to pay more for a brand that is transparent about its sustainability efforts, such as sharing information about the impact its products have on the environment.
But what about companies that don’t have a clear policy on sustainability or social impact? Caldwell from Forester says that brands are going to have to be more transparent about the environmental and social impact if want to see success and growth.
Sustainability vs social impact programs.
It is important to understand that sustainability and social impact programs are not the same things. They are two different things that can be linked to each other, but they are not the same thing.
A sustainability program is an approach to reduce a company’s environmental impact and the use of resources. Often measured as ESG’s (Environmental, social, and governance) criteria, a group of standards used by socially conscious investors to screen investments. It is the act of minimizing the negative impacts that a company has on the environment and the people in it.
Social impact is the practice of improving the quality of life for people in a company’s community. It is the act of improving the lives of the people in a company’s community.
Many companies have a sustainability and social impact program, but few have comprehensive and well-thought-out programs that can be measured and evaluated. This means that the companies and brands that do have a well-thought-out program are often the ones that have the best success.
The importance of a well-thought-out Social Impact program.
Social Impact is now a powerful force helping companies and their brands build deeper consumer connections and improve competitiveness.
Many companies have sustainability and social impact programs, but few have a comprehensive and well-thought-out program that can be measured and evaluated. This means that the companies that do have a well-thought-out program supported by a clear strategy, data measurement and powerful storytelling are often the ones that have the best success and competitive advantage.
But how can a brand take action when it doesn’t have a clear policy on sustainability or a social impact strategy and plan?
If your company is struggling to find new opportunities to increase the relevancy and attractiveness of your brand(s) — perhaps you should look at powering them with a cause that resonates with your customers and employees.
But what’s the recipe in a well-thought-out Social Impact program?
In my mind, there are five, which I will get in more depth in a subsequent article. Strategy. Mission Ecosystems, Innovations, Measurement & Storytelling. Stay tuned.