In the wake of the momentous cultural shifts we’ve seen in 2020, with COVID-19, the growth of the BLM movement, and the historic 2020 election, businesses are being called upon to reexamine their values and how they bring them to life. Today, consumers are paying more attention to how brands are activating around key issues like diversity and inclusivity, environmental practices, and the treatment of their employees. What’s more, consumers are more willing than ever before to hold brands accountable through their social media activities and spending decisions. In an effort to garner trust and build ongoing relationships with their customers, companies are making social impact a central component of both their consumer-facing and operational initiatives.
PSFK’s researchers have examined how purpose-driven business can build brand affinity and drive sales while positioning the organization to succeed within a cultural landscape that prizes empathy and responsibility.
Closed Loop Commerce—Gone are the days when consumers would throw away container after container without giving it a second thought. Humans have generated 9.1 billion tons of plastic waste since 1950, and today’s thoughtful shopper is taking notice. Businesses are taking on the challenge of eco-minded retailing by committing to circular business models, offering post-purchase/post-use recycling programs, and reimagining their packaging systems to eliminate the need for single-use containers. Humanrace for example, a skincare brand created by musician and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams, uses refillable containers made from recycled material to minimize waste. From manufacturing to packaging to refilling, the company has committed to sustainability at every stage in a product’s lifecycle.
Amplifying Diverse Voices—In response to increased racial awareness among retailers and shoppers alike, those with influence are being called upon to use their platforms to promote others who have not been given the same opportunities. Progressive brands, retailers, and creators are using their power to promote underrepresented communities, meeting consumers’ desire for more inclusive shopping opportunities. Beauty platform Thirteen Lune, for instance, is a partnership between two successful business founders who are using their influence to feature Black- and Brown-owned beauty businesses, selling their products and telling their stories.
Social Innovation Hubs—Today’s consumers see the impact that their spending can have both when purchasing at brands or when supporting the cause and organizations they care about. Companies have the opportunity to act as both a partner and a platform by connecting their consumers with programs, initiatives, and tools that allow them to learn, contribute, and participate. UK-based e-tailer Choose Love is doing this by providing an impact-driven online shop, where consumers can buy much-needed items that will be given directly to refugees around the world. While a shopper walks away with nothing, this model enables them to see the direct impact that their purchases will have on another individual’s life.
This is just a small selection of the ways in which businesses are connecting with consumers through values-driven initiatives. See more at our research paper, Purpose-Led Business Practices.