Let’s face it, we like to align ourselves with people that share similar values as us. Birds of a feather flock together, right? Well, we do the same thing with brands. We are loyal to companies because of their values and how they line up with our own. In a world where actions speak louder than words, it’s not enough for a company to claim that they’re moving towards cleaner, healthier and socially more inclusive outcomes. Companies today must incorporate these physical, emotional, and logical elements to create an experience for the consumer.
Let’s take a look at Patagonia. In 2011 they asked customers to “reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.” The company ran a full page ad in the New York Times telling their customers not to buy one of their most popular jackets. “Something has to give,” explained Jill Dumain, Patagonia’s director of environmental strategy, “Something has to fundamentally shift in the consumption world that reduces the pressure on the raw materials, which reduces pressure on the planet and reduces the pressure on the people who make all this stuff all over the world.” Because Patagonia aligned with their mission, the company saw an increase in their sales.
How about Annie’s? They promise organic products along with 2.6 million in donations to school gardens while Ikea has partnered with Save the Children and UNICEF to shed light on child labor practices in Southeast Asia. We are dog lovers here at GB and we are particularly fond of the brand Tito’s for our Vodka Press cocktails. They are committed to rescuing and protecting canines with their Vodka For Dog People Program. The philosophy that consumers are looking for a mission or cause, not just fancy packaging or a good deal, is becoming more of the norm.
Jimmy John’s saw a dramatic shift in the public’s opinion of their company after photos were posted of CEO Jimmy John Liautaud’s big game hunting. Chick-fil-a’s CEO, Dan Cathy, set off a firestorm in 2012 by publicly opposing gay marriage. While these businesses are still operating, the shift in public opinion correlated with drops in sales.
There is a shift in the way consumers are purchasing. Data shows that 76% of Americans would refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company supported an issue that does not align with their beliefs. In fact, 50% of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services. Yes, you read that right: consumers WILL PAY MORE for your service or product if you commit to being corporately responsible in some capacity.
So what are you waiting for? Find a cause you are passionate about and get an edge on your competitors. The goal shouldn’t be more customers, but better customers.
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