Consumers = expert bullsh** detectors

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Consumers are expert bullshit detectors and now, more than ever, they are seeking out brands that authentically make the world a better place.

‘Checking the box’ with an ad-hoc donation at Christmas or the odd fundraising bake sale won’t get your brand across the line in a world where consumers are demanding that businesses make a positive contribution to society, as well as a profit.

A global Accenture study of nearly 30,000 consumers found that 63% prefer to buy from brands that stand for causes which reflect their own values and beliefs, and ditch the brands that don’t. Another global study conducted by Edelman determined that 64% of consumers use brands to demonstrate their values, switching allegiance based on the actions of a brand towards important social issues.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), cause marketing and ‘purpose’ are all interchangeable with ‘social impact’ and describe taking actions that simultaneously achieve positive commercial and social outcomes. Now you have the numbers, the buzzwords and the jargon.

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But why should I care about all of this?

Because it presents a massive opportunity for your brand to do some good for the world while simultaneously growing your customer base.

In simple terms: you can now invest in creating a positive social impact and, through authentic story-telling, achieve a huge return on that investment. Literally, everybody wins.

And the biggest return? Cause marketing fosters the creation of loyal brand advocates who will do your marketing for you. In fact, 8/10 consumers will tell others to buy from a brand that supports issues they care about.

When done well, cause marketing can be the most cost-effective marketing investment you’ll ever make. Your fans start doing your marketing for you.

And it’s not just consumers who love this kind of storytelling. The latest Colmar Brunton ‘Better Futures’ Report showed that 86% of Kiwis want to work for socially and environmentally responsible companies. Brands that invest in doing good, attract the best talent and have a more engaged workforce, resulting in lower staff turnover. A study of 2 million people showed staff turnover rates at companies where employees have opportunities to engage with social causes were more than halved.  

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Increasing demand for conscious brands from both consumers and the workforce is why social impact is an investment you need to make in your brand in 2019. Social impact is no longer just a ‘nice thing to do’. Brands that do good are now the brands that do well.

Let’s break this all down by taking a quick look at cause marketing in action. Allbirds has one of the most successful and well loved social impact strategies out there.

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Allbirds is about so much more than shoes. This brand takes real action to make the world a better place. All the wool used in their shoes is traceable to the farmer, they use sustainable sugarcane sole fibers, promote equity in their supply chain and they tell a great story while they do it through social media, blogs, videos and more.

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At the end of the day, what has Allbirds truly accomplished with all of this? They’ve created a product that has a positive impact on our world. They’ve created a product consumers love and appreciate for its quality but also for the social impact it represents. As a result, Allbirds has a worldwide community of brand advocates who love and believe in the brand and also promote it. Think about how many of your friends have mentioned their flash new Allbirds to you.

This approach really works. Allbirds is valued at $1.4 Billion USD. As Allbirds becomes more successful and more consumers buy in as a result of their high quality product and authentic social good efforts, Allbirds find themselves in a position to do increasingly more social good every fiscal year.

So why isn’t everybody doing this?

Because it takes time. Because it takes commitment. Because it takes authenticity. Because it takes a strategy. Because it takes a brand to trust that their investment will pay dividends over time.

In other words, consumers are fantastic bullshit detectors and they won’t buy into tokenism. Brands that do cause marketing best, do the following 3 things:

  1. Take sustained, meaningful action: whether it’s through charitable partnerships, community projects or cause-related campaigns, whatever you choose  needs to have a positive impact and it needs to be relevant to your brand and target audience.

  2. Tell an authentic story: once you’ve taken meaningful action, you have an epic story to tell! Online content is a great way to tell it, but don’t oversell your involvement. Be genuine and real.

  3. Remain accountable: set targets and work hard to achieve those targets. Let your audience know about your targets so they can hold you to account. Certification is another great method of accountability and B Corp is a great place to start!