Updated August 2019.
In our last blog we talked about our favourite superbrand TV ads right now and both Nike and Guinness focused on important social issues, that they promoted at the same time as promoting their own products. We have been thinking about this topic for a while, how brands are becoming more and more focused on what they can do to show the world that they are moral and ethical about their actions. We also gave an example of ASOS and their packaging in our last post.
Yesterday, 7th August, Samsung unveiled the new Samsung Note 10 and other devices. But, they also showed their commitment to sustainability by announcing a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. These address some of the biggest challenges faced around the world, including those related to inequality, climate and environmental degradation, and education. This means that Samsung and the UNDP are coming to together to give Samsung users the opportunity to support the Global Goals and address important issues. As a consequence, Samsung and UNDP are releasing an app called ‘Samsung Global Goals’ which is both education and donation-based to help people focus on environmental issues. Announcing this at their Samsung’s Unpacked showcase has made a big impact on the way consumers see the superbrand. It’s situations like this that spur on other big organisations to do the same.
It is however, important to note that it’s not just superbrands that focusing on ways to become more environmentally aware. There has also been a huge rise in smaller ethical and eco businesses and they are becoming more and more popular. The consumer is demanding brands to take responsibility for their actions and lots of brands are responding.
Let’s take a look at the brand TOMS arguably the Queen of ethical marketing. For every pair of shoes they sell, they donate a pair of shoes to somebody in need and this is at the forefront of their branding. If you visit their website, you will see that it is one of, if not the main, message that they are promoting. Sometimes, it seems even more prominent than the products itself. AND this is not just a marketing tool but it is ingrained in the company’s philosophy, it is something that company is built on. The idea of ethical marketing, then, is not a strategy but a philosophy.
And, it is is a philosophy that is becoming more and more crucial to successful marketing. In fact, did you know that 92% of millennials are more likely to buy products from ethical companies and 82% of those customers? (Source: WordStream). This means that this is big, and it’s important. Also, it’s not just big brands but also smaller ones that are flourishing in their industries due to their social responsibility and ethical marketing. Here are some examples:
Tony’s chocolonely is a chocolate brand that’s branding is based around the slogan ‘making chocolate slave free’. The first thing you land on is this message.
We are tea
We are tea have a page on their website called ‘our story’ in which they detail the way their product ‘became ethical’. On their homepage, the fact that they are plastic free is in bold.
There’s the sanitary products brand called TOTM who sell organic products that not only protect the environment but are better for the customer. They also actively support Endometriosis UK – a cause close to the product.
This particular example is in line with how a lot of brands and companies are getting involved in International Women’s Day. In the past few years, International Women’s Day has been a very prominent part of people’s ethical marketing. Brands are creating new products for the day, creating huge social media campaigns, and supporting the event as part of their marketing.
So what should you be doing?
Well, first of all, its evident that consumers are more and more aware of the social and ecological responsibility of brands and are often refusing to buy from brands that aren’t cruelty free, eco-friendly, or thinking about their social responsibility. But, this doesn’t mean you should be making up ways of becoming environmentally friendly in your business but rather you should listen carefully to what customers are demanding and find ways of delivering. As we stated earlier, ethical marketing is a philosophy not a strategy. It needs to be slowly implemented into your business strategy and then reflected in your marketing.
If your company already uses biodegrable packaging, rewards people for reusing their coffee cups, or only produces their products ethically and fairly, then are you talking about it enough? The examples we’ve shown of smaller brands are of course extreme as their entire philosophy and consequently their branding is based around their ethical stance but take the Nike and Guinness examples – these brands are not inherently ethical with their decisions necessarily but rather they are focusing on parts of their brand that they can use to claim their social responsibility.
Also, think about how you can support cause, like International Women’s Day and other prominent events throughout the year. Consumers want to know that you are doing your bit and supporting important causes. Fundamentally, by thinking about how you can implement some ethical marketing (as a philosophy not a strategy) into your business or products will add value to the consumer and build your customer relationships. It says to your customers that you are listening to what’s important, and what they want.