Changing mindsets to drive change
The results from our Brands with Purpose report highlight the growing importance of ethics and sustainability in marketing. With the world becoming more and more socially conscious, consumers not only expect first-class services or products but they also demand that companies maintain and promote ethical values. To create a meaningful social impact, build trust, and establish stronger customer relationships, businesses now need to prioritise ethics within their marketing strategies.
The findings from our report however tell us that marketers are confronted by several obstacles when attempting to deliver more meaningful strategies. For agencies, these barriers are due to limiting budgets or a lack of internal knowledge, insight, and resources. As for in-house marketers, it all starts with ethos. The majority don’t consider ethics a core aspect of marketing and this mindset needs to change. Marketers must realise the significant impact marketing has on the environment and take steps to become more responsible in order to drive transformative change.
Transparency is key
Consumers now demand a deeper knowledge of the way businesses do business so being transparent about the sourcing of particular materials and labour is a vital element of ethical marketing. Allocating resources for sustainable and ethical initiatives will allow you to openly share this insight with your audience and demonstrate your commitment to fair trade practices, sustainable sourcing, and responsible supply chains. Transparency allows you to build trust with consumers who are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of their purchasing choices. Encouragingly, our Brands with Purpose research suggests that marketers are already making improvements to becoming more transparent via communications. We discovered that 99% of in-house marketers refer to sustainable credentials, visions, and targets within their external marketing and communications strategies and 95% said that these communications align with the genuine actions of their companies – a huge increase of 45% from two years ago. On top of this, only 3% of agency marketers admitted that they don’t communicate about sustainability within their marketing. To improve transparency, we recommend the following:
- Reveal the origins of raw materials and promote fair trade, organic, or sustainably sourced products.
- Declare your use of eco-friendly servers and websites in order to demonstrate your dedication to reducing your digital footprint and support of sustainable technology.
- Shed light on positive working conditions and fair treatment of employees. Share and showcase your company culture and commitment to responsible labour across the supply chain.
- Consider gaining certifications that validate your ethical ethos and practices including Fairtrade, B Corp, SO 14001, EcoVadis rating, and Planet Mark.
Show your support for social causes
Participating in charitable efforts and supporting social causes can significantly improve your business’s impact on society as well as your reputation. Marking campaigns aligning with particular social issues will allow you to contribute to positive change and resonate with your consumers who share the same values.
It’s paramount, however, to avoid falling into the trap of performative ethics. Our research reveals a concerning trend – 51% of ethical investments are solely serving charitable donations, suggesting that other key areas of investment including ED&I (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) initiatives and community-focused activities are losing out. Of course, donations are beneficial but businesses hold a broader responsibility to support both society and the environment. In order to establish meaningful and authentic endeavours, consider actioning the following:
- Incorporate sustainability and ethical initiatives into your company’s culture and operations, and be sure to communicate these behind-the-scenes efforts to your audience.
- Focus on social causes and initiatives that resonate with your brand’s values, goals, and purpose.
- Partner up and collaborate with nonprofit organisations/charities working to amplify your impact.
- Avoid solely donating to charities and instead explore other routes through which your business can make a difference to both social and environmental challenges.
- Promote your support for social causes on your marketing channels and reinforce authenticity. You could share stories and data that demonstrate the tangible differences your business is making.
Select ethical partners wisely
Collaborating with partners, be it suppliers to service providers, who share the same values of your business and endorse ethical standards will not only strengthen your integrity but also amplify the impact of your ethical marketing efforts. According to our report, the majority of marketing agencies acknowledge that there is only partial alignment between clients and agencies in regards to their sustainability agenda and 11% believe that no alignment exists at all. A lack of communication is often recognised as the main reason for this misalignment.
Therefore, in order to encourage a successful partnership, it is important to consider key elements such as shared Values and Ethical Standards, responsible Supply Chain, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), and certifications/accreditations. For example, Climbing Trees is proud to be a B Corp whilst serving as an ethical partner to multiple purpose-driven brands, including charity giant Greenpeace UK. We also pride ourselves on transparency, openly and honestly communicating our values and sustainability efforts. The following considerations are key when choosing a partner:
- Assess your business practices to get a good idea of your current ethical standards and identify key areas for improvement.
- Engage in research to find partners who share the same values and look out for relevant certifications or accreditations that validate their commitment to ethics.
- Ethics and sustainability should become an integral topic during discussions with prospective partners. Think about how you can embed your own ethical objectives into your collaborative strategies.
- Only engage in partnerships with organisations that clearly illustrate a dedication to responsible supply chains and DE&I.
Communicating fair trading, supporting social causes, and establishing meaningful partnerships are vital steps to building loyalty and trust. A commitment to ethical marketing will not only allow companies to drive change towards a better society but business owners can also reap the benefits of a healthier reputation and sustainable success.
Want more in-depth advice? Contact Climbing Trees to see how the experts can help your business become a champion in ethical marketing.