Transparency, sustainability and social responsibility: ideals that are becoming more than a byword for good practice but a necessity for good business.
How important though are ethics to a brand’s success? The answer it would seem is – increasingly.
Ethical practices are something the consumer industry and business in general should endeavour towards, although history tells us that the bottom line at times has been more important in the past.
The balancing act between an ethical approach and making a profit has often edged out a commitment to maintaining values in the past.
But there is no mistaking the role ethics play in the success of brands.
Sophisticated shoppers will always want to know more – that they are getting value for money not just a lower price, what the ingredients are, that they are supporting ethical practices.
Whether it is the endless online data or the inescapable 24-news cycle, businesses have certainly woken up to the fact that bad ethics are bad for business.
Indeed industry figure heads believe that a commitment and ethical approach will add to the strength and stability of a company. A top down approach to doing the right thing nurtures everything from the best employees to the most loyal customer base.
What role do ethics play in branding?
When it comes to branding the obvious starting point is to consider what a brand represents – and what type of consumer it wants to reach.
Brands that want to engage buyers willing to spend more in return for quality should certainly strive to reach higher ethical standards. A failure to do so will very likely lose them that custom for good if flaws in their ethical commitments are found.
More than just marketing
Ethical products have a marketing niche all of their own, as savvy consumers choose increasingly on the grounds of whether products are fair-trade, organic or plastic-free.
Then there are products set up as charitable enterprises that acquire a cult status helped by word of mouth and social media. People who believe in ethics tend to believe strongly and will spread the word.
Buying into an ideal
The role of ethics in branding looks likely to increase along with the spending power of Millennials, who are credited with being more digitally aware, socially liberal and ethically-minded.
When this is combined with a move towards experiential marketing for that generation, the role of ethics in a brand’s success rises still.
These consumers are buying into a brand for what it represents and because they perceive it reflects their values. Sound eco-credentials, sustainable products and practices, social responsibility and a commitment to equality are all very much part of a wider picture that needs to be represented.
Brands need to wear their commitment to ecological and ethical issues as a badge of pride and make it an integral part of their identity – a selling point that will draw in concerned consumers.
Sustainable sales are, after all, about loyalty, trust and quality and these values are what an ethical approach signifies – a brand that can be trusted.