Ethical Marketing: How To Build A Successful Brand with A Conscience

Someone who needs less, and would rather spend more on a product or brand that has a positive global impact. So for brands, it’s no longer a question of “whether” you should go green, it’s HOW do you go green.

Charlotte Yorke

Charlotte Yorke

Charlotte Yorke
Wholehearted Social
February 4, 2022

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Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins

While the world came to a screeching halt in 2020, a trend emerged. No, not TikTok (that’s another blog post for another day!). The trend of consumerism with a conscience emerged, and with it a heightened sense of personal awareness of how our decisions can affect both the planet, and the people around us. While we previously may have not thought twice about needing something instantly, and ordering it online for it to be delivered with next day delivery, suddenly we didn’t actually NEED anything…because we couldn’t go anywhere. And as our lives moved further online, so too did seeing the effects of the pandemic to those of us who have friends with businesses of their own.

Consumers began to "shop small," where rather than automatically shop from old reliable big corporations, consumers wanted to help the local businesses that were suffering through the pandemic. This marked an evolution into a more socially conscious consumer overall, with customers having a lightbulb moment that they could take chances on new brands whose morals and ethical ideals align with their own. So while the world did come to a screeching halt, it seems that consumerism moved forward into a brave new world, and created a whole new type of customer:

Someone who needs less, and would rather spend more on a product or brand that has a positive global impact. So for brands, it’s no longer a question of “whether” you should go green, it’s HOW do you go green.

Implement Sustainable Practices

Sustainable practice should really be a core value to most current brands, and is something that both consumers and employees now look out for. First things first, if you don’t know what can be done better, then you can’t improve it. This can be a pretty overwhelming task to look at on the whole, so to make it a bit more manageable, let’s split overall Sustainable Practices into External and Internal.

External practices that have a positive impact on the environment could mainly be summarised by minimising overall travel - both for employees, and products. Try the below to actively bring down the emissions your brand is putting out into the world on a daily basis:

  • Bike to work schemes
  • Less overall travel - As much as  Zoom and technology can be a nightmare, we love it really because we don’t have to fly halfway across the globe for meetings that could be done right from our own living room!
  • More opportunities to work from home
  • Source local vendors - Less travel for the products, means less carbon footprint on the world!

Now, when it comes to what can be done internally. So for these we want to take a good long look at the internal workings of your day to day business - and this will mean looking at every single thing you do in your day for granted with a fresh pair of eyes. Throwing something in the bin? Well, let’s look at whether it could be recycled better. Purchasing cups for the water cooler? Great! But are those cups recyclable, and is there a more green way of supplying them? Here are our top tips below for those every day tasks that could be improved upon:

  • Clearly label all of your recycling areas
  • Opt for green vendors - Regularly review your most used products, and research for options that could come from recycled materials
  • Conduct an energy audit.You will receive recommendations of how best to be energy efficient in your place of work - such as installing smart-meters, or using more energy efficient lightbulbs.

Some of these practices may drive outgoing costs up slightly, however with 78% of Gen-Z are willing to pay MORE for actively sustainable products, it’s really a no-brainer!

Be Vegan + Cruelty Free

It’s now more important than ever to provide vegan and cruelty-free products. Demand has skyrocketed over the past few years as consumers have become far more socially conscious with how their own personal choices affect the planet. These days, sourcing vegan and cruelty-free products is not only just the ethical thing to do, it’s the best business decision. Dig deeper into your suppliers to make sure that if you are advertising your products as vegan and cruelty free, that that is 100% the truth. Don’t be afraid to interrogate new suppliers and to get concrete answers!

Say YES to Fairtrade

Nowadays, buying Fairtrade isn’t just jumping on a bandwagon - it’s an absolute deal breaker with 92% of Millennials choosing to buy from ethical companies. First of all, if you are looking to better your own sustainability practices, where better to source from than Fairtrade which has a sustainability policy itself! This policy includes training for Farmers around the world to better their environmental awareness through waste management, pest control, and energy and greenhouse gas emission, among others. With a new found global awareness over the past two years, consumers are no longer willing to line pockets of billionaires, and would rather consciously choose to spend their money where it may actually do some good. By buying Fairtrade you are supporting communities around the world, which helps improve housing, education, and local infrastructure in lower income areas.

Keep communication clear and honest

We all know the phrase “the truth will come out,” and there’s no better warning to brands that make grand sweeping statements in today’s climate. This is why being 100% transparent with what it is your brand specifically does to help the environment in it’s own small way can be the make or break for consumers. Vague sustainability claims can actually have the opposite effect, as many people will believe that without specificity then there is no real action being taken. So, always make commitments, and update your consumers with how those commitments are going.

Here are a few ways in which you can actively promote your brand’s conscious efforts:

  • Regular publications updating your consumers on how your efforts are going. This can be introducing them to some of your suppliers and how they operate, or even explaining how perhaps you weren’t aware of your energy usage in the past (for example), and these are the new policies you’ve put in place to combat it.

  • Challenge your consumers to join you in your efforts! Social Media campaigns to bring your customers on board with the ways that you are affecting change in the world has a double whammy effect - on one hand it’s great for the environment, and then on the other it’s free positive brand promotion!

  • Share your story of what made you shift to being a more socially conscious brand. When engaging with consumers in an honest and thoughtful way, it creates a positive connection that is often at the forefront of where consumers choose to spend their money. With 9 out of 10 millennials being willing to change brands to a ‘cause-related’ brand, it just goes to show how much that personal connection can really connect consumers with a brand.

Overall, by always being truthful with how your efforts are going, and the small impacts they are making, you not only gain trust, but your brand image will improve tenfold. Sharing what you’re already doing, and setting goals to improve upon your current policies will automatically set you apart from companies that making sweeping and generic statements.

After all, you know what they say: “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” - George Orwell

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