“Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’” – Bob Dylan
Acting ‘ethically’ leaves a lot to interpretation. Ethicality is an entirely subjective concept and as such every individual will have different views of what constitutes ethical behaviour, which has been shaped over the years through parenting, the place they grew up, the people they associate with and the media that they are exposed to as well as many other factors. As current broader society is a bubbling pot of different held belief systems, it may seem like a safer option for companies to try and stay away from potentially ostracising an audience. This blog will explore some examples of companies aligning themselves with moral causes as well as some market insights which may make you decide to fight the good fight.
The trend of companies rallying by moral causes is becoming more and more prevalent as a marketing strategy to appeal to audiences, and it’s working, Google searches containing “ethical online shopping” have increased by 600% year on year compared to 2020. A very clear indicator that ethical consumption is an increasingly popular concept. It seems that this trend is going to get more and more popular as Earth slips faster and faster into a hellscape of our own making. The chances are you know that climate change is a very real threat that is already having adverse effects on weather and ecosystems. And the reality of the situation is that a large proportion of the blame can be attributed to private companies. According to a Stacker (2020) article, just 90 companies are responsible for nearly two thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions from 1880 to 2010. This is pretty staggering as a concept, and it really does put into perspective. But that doesn’t change the fact that ethical facing companies are viewed with more trust, and as such consumers are more willing to buy from a company that appears to be trying to help positive change. A great example of such a company is Ecosia, which is a search engine that uses a portion of its revenue generated from running ads to plant trees. Since the company’s inception in 2009 it has funded the planting of over 135 million trees!
Climate change isn’t the only ethical cause that companies are aligning themselves with. Social justice is a term hated by some, but what it inherently represents is treating everyone with value and respect. A prime example of a company aligning themselves with the fight against discrimination is Nike. Nike released a 2018 marketing campaign with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was ejected by the NFL after kneeling during the national anthem in a protest of police brutality against minority communities in the USA. The move sparked outrage and backlash from many. Leading them to boycott Nike and leading some people to go as far as burning their own previously bought Nike shoes and merchandise. This may sound like a big issue on Nike’s part and leads into the fear mentioned earlier about alienating a portion of your potential customer base. When you consider the fact that Nike’s overall value increased by 6 billion dollars because of the campaign, the issue begins to look a lot smaller. All the media attention given to Nike through the whole ordeal was better marketing than they could ever hope for, with the brand being exposed more than ever across news sites and social media.
The current market trends don’t lie, people can be more selective than ever when considering engaging with a firm. To build a connection with customers and solidify a loyal ongoing relationship then value and convenience are something most companies claim to offer. One sure fire way to stick out in the crowd and really build a solid foundation of trust with your customer base is to operate as an ethical company. This can let your customers feel as though they are vicariously contributing to positive change by shopping with you.