According to a recent study, 73% of consumers believe brands have a responsibility to do more than just generate a profit.
Now, people expect social responsibility, and even more than that, for brands to actively try to make a difference in the world.
While the concept of ‘social good’ isn’t new, as marketing strategies become increasingly personalised, corporate responsibility is becoming more pertinent.
By talking about the issue and causes consumers care about – brands are able to build a better connection as well as promote their core values.
From protecting the environment to promoting equality, here are four brands that have done their bit to initiate change.
One of the most impressive examples of corporate responsibility, TOMS shoes originated from the ‘One for One’ business model. This means that with every consumer purchase, a person in need is provided with a pair of shoes.
In the ten years since the company began, TOMS has given away almost 50m shoes, and has since started the same initiative for eyewear, water and safe birth.
Beyond this, the company has also started the TOMS Social Entrepreneurship Fund to help early stage start-ups get off the ground.
By using social responsibility as the foundation of its business, you could argue that the TOMS product is a little arbitrary. Would people still buy the shoes if there was no wider aim?
Whether this is the case or not, it has undoubtedly had an impact on how customers perceive and react to the brand.
Marketing itself as ‘food with integrity’, it promotes long-term partnerships with farmers and pasture-raised animals.
In 2011, it started the ‘Chipotle Cultivate Foundation’ – a non-for-profit organisation aiming to create a more sustainable food future.
An example of how to add value to a business, the benefit of Chipotle’s social responsibility is that it inherently furthers its USP.
As well as benefitting the farmers, it also creates a sustainable relationship between business and supplier, and ultimately helps the brand deliver one of the reasons it is so popular – fresh and ethically farmed ingredients.
Instead of resigning its CSR efforts to a single page on its website, outdoor clothing company Patagonia has made it the forefront of its biggest ad campaigns.
Promoting responsible consumption and fair working conditions, its series of ‘Don’t Buy Out Jackets’ ads asked consumers to consider the environmental cost of everything they buy – including Patagonia products.
With its subversive nature, the campaign could be seen as just a gimmick. However, by integrating the message into every aspect of the brand’s marketing, it is clear that it is based on long-term values rather than opportunistic PR.
For a ‘belief-based’ business, the idea is that this authenticity does far more to build a connection with consumers than any Black Friday bargain.
Ben & Jerry’s
Promoting fair trade and non-GMO, Ben & Jerry’s is a great example of how ethical values can become part and parcel of a company’s tone of voice.
By continuously reinforcing that its ice cream is made “in the nicest possible way”, the brand uses its conversational style to speak about sustainability in a transparent and engaging fashion. In turn, the consumer always feels like they are buying something worthwhile.
But even better, this sense of value reaches far beyond the product itself.
From niche issues like marriage equality to general beliefs like peace – Ben & Jerry’s portrays itself as a brand that cares about much more than just ice cream.