It has always been difficult for brands to stand out, with colossal amounts going into advertising and marketing, sometimes in vain. It’s tempting to consider adopting questionable practices in the name of successful marketing.
In that context, ethical marketing is being mentioned increasingly often. This relatively new concept of marketing draws attention to a brand’s transparency and trustworthiness and its social and environmental responsibilities. This means using sustainable, inclusive, honest, and culturally sensitive practices.
While an effective marketing strategy remains indispensable, your brand’s practices will naturally take ethical shape when they are driven by quality core values. Ethical brands grasp the significance of environmental and social responsibility. The companies behind them know how important it is to impact the planet positively and to make a difference in people’s lives.
What values are important to consumers today?
Pressured supply chains, changing work habits, soaring inflation, and a myriad of online shopping options are only some of the factors that make it challenging to say what today’s consumers’ priorities are. Research commissioned by Google Cloud in April 2022 found shoppers were increasingly considering the values of brands when making a purchasing decision. In fact, there was a direct connection between how eco-friendly shoppers perceived products to be and how likely they were to buy them.
The pandemic drove consumers to change their priorities, shifting their focus to concepts like sustainability and community. What’s more, green consumption isn’t a new tendency. A global sustainability study carried out by Simon-Kucher and Partners in 2021 found that most consumers have shifted to greener buying practices. Half of those surveyed ranked sustainability as the main driver of value.
Sustainability is at the top of the list of values that are important to modern consumers. With each year, pollution, waste, and climate change are becoming more and more concerning. Consumers also take inclusion, diversity, and equality into account. This means supporting human rights and being inclusive of all people regardless of their health status or socioeconomic background.
Consumers want brands to be diverse and accepting. In addition, they look for accountability, transparency, and authenticity in a brand. This means demonstrating how you put quality core values into action and being upfront about your practices.
Defining and implementing values in marketing
Your core values shape your brand and your business. They give your organization purpose and meaning, making a clear definition of them essential. You can achieve this by sitting down with your team and asking yourselves questions such as:
- How should a company treat its employees?
- What do you want our brand to be known for?
- How does/can our brand stand out?
- What are the values behind our brand?
- How are we living them out?
- What philosophies are important to you?
- What environmental and social practices and beliefs do you find important?
- What effect do you want our brand to have on people?
- If you could describe our company culture in a few words, what would they be?
- If you could describe your workplace environment in a few words, what would they be?
- How can this environment improve, if needed?
- What would the perfect workplace be like for you?
The point of these questions is to start talking about values and applying them in practice. It’s advisable to implement them in your marketing strategy as soon as they are defined.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility
There are many ways to put sustainability into practice. One is to be more mindful of the resources and energy consumed in your office. You can use eco-friendly packaging and product materials and seek out partnerships with fair trade suppliers.
Approaches to reduce office waste include repurposing or recycling excess stock and composting food scraps. Some organizations have launched take-back programs to recycle products when their life cycles end. For example, certain clothing companies will take back clothes customers have bought and give them away or repurpose them. This makes sure they can be reused in the future and reduces clothing waste as well.
Depending on your sector or niche, there are various practices and initiatives you can introduce and adopt. You can discuss these practices or initiatives in a blog post on your company website or in your marketing materials. It’s not enough to spread the word that your business is eco-friendly. Existing and potential customers must be able to verify that claim using the information you’ve provided.
How to implement diversity and inclusivity
If your organization wants to be inclusive of diverse groups, mindful employment practices are a must. Take active measures to support equality and diversity in the workplace, such as social selling strategies to convey these values. Use your social network channels to connect with potential customers and engage with leads. This can help your sales. A brand that connects with customers on social media often becomes the customer’s first choice when they’re ready to buy a product, which other companies sell too.
In other words, customers need convincing that you’re implementing ethical values. Even the best social media and content marketing strategies become useless if you fail to connect. You need to tailor these strategies to make them useful. Obviously, a health and fitness company’s marketing tactics will differ from those of a software firm, even if the two organizations are sending the same messages about inclusion and diversity.
Applying sector-relevant marketing tactics will help share your values with customers. They will then be more engaged and more likely to buy from you.
How to implement social responsibility
Being socially responsible generally means having awareness of the impact of your company or being concerned about others’ well-being. One way to implement this value is by introducing effective employee benefits and well-being programs and services.
If you market your business as socially responsible, but you don’t take care of your employees, it sends the message that you’re dishonest, and your practices – deceptive. On the other hand, offering solid benefits packages shows you really care about the people who work for you. It conveys to your customers that you appreciate the human factor and want to support people, which isn’t necessarily typical of the business sector.