By Andy Karuza, Head of Marketing at Terracube† Innovative product developer and marketing leader helping startups get from $0 to $50 million.
Success in today’s competitive business environment is usually found in thin brand positioning, product features or cost differentiation margins. In the sea of equality, virtually all of your competitors say the same thing you say in your marketing and sales pitches. So, what’s one major way your business can stand out from the crowd?
Recently, there has been a significant shift in consumer interest in social good products and other social trends that smart brands have been able to capitalize on. Ninety percent of global consumers would switch to a brand associated with a good cause given a similar price or quality. Trisa Thompson, Chief Responsibility Officer at Dell (yes, these types of positions are becoming more common), says: customers today want to do business with responsible companies that reflect their personal values. Many companies have even restructured or launched as a so-called “B Corporation† That said, how can your business better align with the growing consumer interest in socially well-focused businesses and products without overdoing it and (potentially) facing a huge backlash?
Design products that are more environmentally friendly and ethically responsible.
In a recent survey, 68% of respondents said they consider sustainability when buying a product. There are primarily two ways to have more sustainable products; this includes how you design your product and how you use the materials that go into it. For example, you can ask your suppliers to include more sustainable materials, such as recycled plastic, in your product in many cases. Or you can pay more attention to which suppliers you work with, for example if the aforementioned supplier does not have recycled plastics that can be used in your product or packaging. Consult your suppliers to see your options for making a more sustainable product that surprisingly won’t increase your total cost of goods much, if at all.
Design products or add services to make them last longer.
In addition to the actual materials used or the way you purchase the materials for your product, you can also use better design processes or services. For example, you may be able to offer repairs for your product or exchange it when it breaks, and then recycle the returned goods later. Or you can design your product so that it doesn’t have to be thrown away if its usability diminishes. Think of smartphones and how the declining performance of built-in batteries usually causes them to… discarded within two yearsinstead of extending the life of that smartphone with something as simple as a replaceable battery that can keep the battery performance in top shape for years to come.
Many brands may worry about not being able to sell more things to the same customer, and that may be true. But given the higher brand loyalty you will have from customers who appreciate your focus on sustainability, you will a higher lifetime customer value often. Remember, it is more expensive to bring in a new customer than it is to keep the customers you have.
Create a meaningful and relevant charitable relationship.
Not every brand, especially if it’s service-oriented, can design products that are sustainable, but there’s another great way to align your business more with social charities: charity. Many companies donate what they already sell – whether a marketing company offers free advertising services to charities, or a product company donates one of their products for every unit sold. Bombas Socks, for example, donates a few of their products to homeless people, and Tom’s Shoes donates a pair of shoes (though not for every product now) to various groups in need, including refugees, children and more. Both brands have this charitable relationship as part of their core business; it’s not just any advertising campaign, leading to my last point.
Social wellbeing must be at the heart of your business to be authentic.
Authenticity is key, as 56% of consumers say too many brands use social issues as a marketing ploy. This is more common than ever, such as repeated jokes on social media where companies simply change their logo or throw a message in their ads saying they support the cause du jour. However, consumers are smart enough to recognize the lack of authenticity, and brands employing such tactics usually end up as negative memes on social media. An organization called Shout Out UK recently covered the difference between brands like Nike and Ben and Jerry’s, comparing how Nike can sometimes make an impact with their social ad campaigns, but lack the organizational diversity to support it. At the same time, companies like Ben and Jerry’s are built for social well-being at their core, going so far as to hire a Global Head of Activism who has never worked in brand management, a position aimed at increasing sales, but instead only worked in civil society policy and advocacy.
By building a business that focuses on social good products and causes, you can develop better brand loyalty, enter a new market segment and attract new customers. But authenticity is vital when you build that purpose into your business model, whether it’s the people you hire, the way you design your product, how you source your materials, or how you make charitable donations an essential part of your business model. makes. Consumers are tired of chatter and cheap social media posts designed to keep up with the latest social trends; it’s time to act.