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As a consumer, how important are ethics to you when you decide to purchase an item?
A report by Nielsen found that 73% of millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings, and with more millennials filling positions of power, ethical marketing is more important than ever before. An increasing amount of consumers are choosing to invest in brands that they believe make ethical, socially responsible decisions that don’t leave anyone in harm’s way or unaware about what they’re buying. The buying process is becoming less about what’s convenient and cheap and more about what’s sustainable and honorable.
According to Aflac’s National Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, 75% of consumers will take some sort of negative action if they believe a company isn’t responsible. This could be socially, environmentally, politically — you name it. If a company uses deception and twisted facts to sell something, it’s probably not ethical.
Being ethically aware and responsible as a brand builds a positive rapport with your target market — especially those in the younger bracket — and encourages relationships built on trust. It makes sense to align your strategy with consumer priorities, which will sustain your business and customer base in the long run.
Because there are discrepancies about what constitutes as ethical and what doesn’t, here are a few general guidelines to follow for ethical marketing:
• Attract customers through transparency with accurate, honest information.
• Avoid deceptive marketing or advertising practices.
• Practice safe production and use of products.
• Ensure the privacy of customer data and information.
Here’s how your brand can incorporate ethical marketing so it attracts the right customers.
Choose environmentally safe options.
The earth is in crisis mode. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that, in the last 50 years, humans consumed more resources than in all previous history combined. That’s an amount that’s difficult to fathom, and for good reason: It’s ridiculous.
Because the environment is rapidly deteriorating thanks to our carelessness, the cause for concern is at an all-time high. Consumers want to support businesses that use environmentally safe practices when producing and distributing products so they can put their money toward good causes.
Opt for environmentally friendly options surrounding your business. People are willing to spend more if it means they’re contributing to something positive. In my experience, it’s a fallacy that if you practice ethical marketing you’ll lose customers and revenue. On the contrary, customers will respect your brand for its efforts.
Take the clothing brand Patagonia, for example. It recycles your clothing items when they’re no longer wearable, pledges 10% of pre-tax profits to environmental groups and supports grassroots activists. Its prices are moderately high compared to similar brands; however, because Patagonia advocates for saving resources, people are willing to pay for its merchandise.
The easiest way to lose customer loyalty is by lying to customers. Day in and day out, people receive marketing message after marketing message telling them what to buy and who to buy it from. With the introduction of online shopping, consumers are fully able to make buying decisions based on what they want rather than what they’re told, so when they have the option to buy from a business that’s honest with them, they’re going to do it.
Deceptive marketing practices will only get you so far. It’s best to hold fast to a policy of transparency from the beginning to avoid having to answer why your business lied about things it can’t prove and aren’t true.
In 2015, Panera pledged to cut out all artificial ingredients from its menu by 2016, and sure enough, it did. It launched a brand new menu full of information about its ingredients, nutritional info and an animal welfare report. As a result, the food chain saw a five percent increase in quarterly sales, which proves that being honest about your business practices leads to a positive return on investment.
Help those in need.
There are endless ways businesses can use their resources to help those who truly need it. For popular brands especially, when they use their power, status and money to donate to causes and help those who need it, it influences a cycle of positive behavior. On top of that, it attracts the right audience that is going to stay loyal to a brand that cares about the wellbeing of people and animals.
The shoe brand TOMS, for example. adopts a one-for-one policy, meaning that for every pair of shoes purchased, the company will help someone in need. Some of the ways they contribute include donating shoes, supplying medication for hookworm and providing water to people in seven different countries. The brand is now worth more than $400 million dollars.
Over to you.
You don’t have to sacrifice revenue for your morals and values. If anything, customers gear more toward brands that are socially and environmentally conscious because they pave the way for a brighter, more positive future. Incorporating ethical marketing into your overall business strategy will allow you to not only attract the right customers but keep them as well.
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