We, as consumers, are becoming increasingly conscious of the impact of the products we purchase. While our priorities may differ, many of us have started consciously (or unconsciously) changing our behaviour when it comes to purchasing, by deciding where to shop and who to purchase from based on a brand’s social and environmental impact.
Do you opt for organic items where possible? Or maybe you only use cruelty-free toiletries? Making decisions like these about what you’re going to buy and which type of companies you’re going to support with your money and purchases is known as conscious consumerism.
We have also started to pay attention to the impact that businesses have on our local communities. Are they contributing to the communities in which they operate? Are they “local” in a meaningful sense?
First of all, what is conscious consumerism?
To give it a dictionary definition, conscious consumerism is the increased awareness of the impact of one’s purchase decisions. Who am I purchasing from? What does the brand stand for? Is the company I am supporting environmentally responsible? Is it committed to social equality?
Fun fact: a 2019 report found that a huge 73% of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.
How has conscious consumerism grown?
Conscious consumerism spreads as more and more of us become more aware of harsh realities related to each purchase such as climate change and pollution, as well as grossly underpaid workers with poor working conditions.
It is easier than ever to research brands and their ethical standing, impacts and values, as well as spreading the word via social media.
We are paying more and more attention to the process of creating and delivering the product they buy.
How can you create an ethical business for the conscious consumer?
First, you should be clear on your brand “why”. To establish a strong ethical brand purpose, you should aim to address ethical issues that are important to you as a brand and your audience/consumers.
For some inspiration, a good place to start is looking at the major sustainable development goals (SDGs) for the world. There are currently 17, including zero hunger, quality education, clean water and sanitation, reduced inequalities, and sustainable cities and communities.
Of course, there are many other types of brand purposes. The examples above are just here to provide some guidance and it will be up to you to choose what ethical purpose(s) you want your brand to be focused on.
Secondly, you need to focus on how you will portray your brand to your audience/consumers. This is where strong ethical and authentic branding comes into play. Your brand should stand out as one of a kind, with meaningful values and a genuine voice.
A brand’s digital presence plays a huge role in putting forward your ethical values, which is why it is essential to create a website that is on-brand and follows through with your brands’ ethical standpoint, as well as speaking to your customers on an emotional level.
Following on from this, a brand should consider how they portray their physical presence, looking at aspects such as how they will package their products and selecting eco-sustainable options for their printed collateral.