I’m getting lessons in conscious consumerism from my 19 year-old daughter. Recently we headed to our local shopping centre for a mum and daughter afternoon of coffee, cake and refreshing her wardrobe on my credit card. As I browsed the window of Uniqlo I was told firmly, “No mum. Don’t buy at Uniqlo- their cotton comes from Xinjiang forced labour”. Apparently, Zara is in the frame too, so my shopping choices are shrinking fast.
Fifty years ago Milton Friedman declared that the primary purpose of business was to make profit. Milton didn’t reckon on the Millennials or Gen Z, who expect corporates to take the lead on important societal issues. Most importantly their brand loyalty depends on it.
If your NFP is seeking partnerships with corporates, and especially retailers, you need to understand the pressures they face and how you can be part of the solution.
The COVID pandemic has accelerated the trend of consumers becoming more conscious of their shopping choices and making choices that reflect their ethics and values. Consumers are seeking alignment between a brand’s values and their personal values. Given the surge in online shopping, corporate retailers are having to adapt fast to customers who are less loyal but more demanding and socially conscious.
Corporate brands need to deepen brand affinity and brand loyalty to survive. They are reassessing how they connect with consumers to be more relevant and inspiring. Can you help them address the key questions that more conscious consumers are asking?
Do you give me hope?
When Suncorp pledged $1 million to The Smith Family in 2020 it addressed the urgent need for digital learning for disadvantaged students. Suncorp inspired its customers with the possibility of narrowing the digital divide for the most vulnerable children. Do you have an inspiring vision that will engage your corporate’s audiences? Charities are blessed with the passion and emotional engagement to excite audiences. Can you paint a picture of the future you could achieve with your partner? Maybe it’s “Kiss Goodbye to MS” or “No Deaths from Breast Cancer by 2030”. Provide the inspiration to help your corporate partner engage with its customers.
Do you give me a sense of belonging?
Corporates are adopting their target audiences’ issues in life as part of their own brand values. Examples include the Body Shop’s ethical and sustainable values or Nike working with Colin Kaepernick on diversity and Black Lives Matter. Do you have a deep understanding of your tribe, your audiences, your followers, and what matters to them? Are they a valuable audience for a corporate partner? Alignment of your shared or target audiences enables a corporate to build a sense of belonging with their customers, by demonstrating their investment in something meaningful to them.
Does this fit with my personal values?
Australians are not shy of boycotting brands that don’t align with their personal values. See the backlash from a Zimmerman campaign accused of racial preferencing or the objections to the misogynistic slogans on Wicked Camper vans. Alignment with your charity and your cause can help to reinforce the corporate’s commitment to the values of its customers in a genuine and meaningful way.
Conscious consumerism is an opportunity to present a partnership with your cause and your non-profit as the ideal vehicle for corporates to connect with their customers authentically. Corporates are struggling to demonstrate that capitalism really has a conscience. Position your partnership as a way for them to connect to their customer base in a way that’s relevant and inspiring and you’ll have a strong proposition for new partners.