Be a brand that gives back to society

Brands that back social causes are more likely to be trusted by consumers, studies show, with more than 80% would purchase a product that has a social or environmental benefit, and would also tell their friends and families about it.

Among the 100 future trends and change to watch for 2015 compiled by JWTIntelligence, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability issues have been called out as two key areas that consumers would be expecting from brands. In the highly competitive marketing landscape, this is a trend that brands and marketers cannot ignore. Even Ashton Kutcher, at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015, urged brands to tackle social issues as “it just so happens that these consumers that you are trying to reach and connect with, and create brand affinity with, care about those issues too.” (Source: CampaignLive)

There are many ways for brands to support a good cause, and here are some examples of how other brands have done so.

1. Incorporate social action directly into the business model

TOMS is well-known for their practical and trendy espadrilles, but did you know that with every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will donate a pair of new shoes to a needy child? This one purchase for one social action, also termed “Third Way Commerce” by JWTIntelligence – refers to how social actions can take place concurrently with sales. Munchery, a cafe in San Francisco, donates a meal to the needy with every dinner purchased at their store.

2. Partnership with charities and non-governmental organizations

If adjusting your business model may not be appropriate, or if you want to do more, there is also the option of partnering with existing NGOs or charities to empower our citizens through the act of consumption. Table for Two is an international organization that aims to reduce hunger globally, and have provided a platform where consumers can consciously contribute to this cause while making a purchase with their partner brands. In Hong Kong, with every Table For Two branded meal purchased at partnering restaurants, the equivalent of USD0.25 is donated towards helping to fund children’s school meals in China and Africa.

3. Meaningful marketing

Bigger brands may have the advantage of fame, a large social media following, and perhaps larger budgets. Instead of using traditional means of advertising that solely promotes their product or services, they may choose to align themselves with a cause, or a socially-positive message through developing content for social media channels. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” is a social experiment that wanted to bring to light the issues that women had with self-confidence and being overly critical about their appearance – and to also reassure them of their self-worth and value. This video went viral, but importantly, it is also a demonstration of how a brand can stand behind a good cause through their marketing messages. More examples of such advertising can be found here.

The above examples are but a tip of an ice-berg where CSR is concerned, and there are already many companies and brands out there with interesting ways to give back to society, and to do good. Do you have an example to share? Please leave a comment below, we will be happy to hear from you!

[Photo: “Give us this day” by Flickr user Kris / cc by 2.0]

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