Loyalty is key

Work hard and be kind

Nice guys finish last. Or so they say. Is everything about to change?

A key part of CX is how customers feel when they use your products, and, in a wider sense, how they feel about your brand. Increasingly, emotional connections with brands are being influenced as much by ethical and sustainability credentials as style or function. ‘Values for money’ is becoming a core part of brand strategy.

A Nielson report into corporate sustainability found that 66% of global consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Among Millennials 81% expect their favourite brands to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship. They want brands to invest in the betterment of society, to make an impact on the world, to be open, honest and public about their pro-social initiatives, and they as customers want to be involved alongside brands in giving something back.

So, reassuringly, people are essentially good at heart. Or, as the cynic may put it, ethical brands enable us as consumers to find an excuse to continue feeding our limitless desire for material goods under the banner of being ethically sound. Either way, it’s easy to see why it’s a route that many a savvy brand is pursuing in an effort to make consumers feel differently about their offering. And where there’s feeling, there’s scope for what all brands crave – loyalty.

Deliveroo has recently launched an ‘opt in for cutlery’ campaign in an effort to reduce plastic waste, alongside providing its restaurants with new biodegradable eco-packaging, environmentally friendly straws and investing in first-of-its kind sustainable packaging for hot liquids. As well as positioning itself as a brand with values in relation to a topic that’s getting a huge amount of news coverage, the packaging also ensures that the brand is present at the point of consumption – a very smart initiative.

Other brands have gone even further and made philanthropy a core part of their business model. Who Gives a Crap is a toilet paper brand that produces fully recycled toilet paper and donates half of its profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Toms has built its business on a ‘One for One’ principle – for every pair of shoes they sell, they will donate a pair to a child in need. Later, the brand added eyewear to its offering, and with every pair purchased, they help give sight through the donation of prescription glasses.

So, what should brands do? Especially those for whom there isn’t scope to go down the philanthropic route that the likes of Who Gives a Crap and Toms have pursued.

Let’s start with what brands shouldn’t do – don’t try and fudge it. Consumers can sniff a lack of authenticity a mile off. Also, be very wary of attempting to claim affinity with a wider movement unless your brand has a legitimate and prominent role within it; Pepsi’s attempt at aligning themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement in 2017 with a Kendall Jenner-fronted protest themed ad (which was pulled within 24 hours of release) was a great example of how not to do it.

A better approach is to unearth what it is about your products, services, or way of doing business that you are proud of and make some noise about it – brag a little. After all, brands spend most of their time bragging about themselves, so why not make their ethical calibre the focus?

If you’re struggling to find anything worth shouting about, perhaps it’s time to make some changes to create a more values-orientated business – even small things can go a long way (no one is expecting you to solve the world’s problems). It might just resonate more with consumers and improve their experience of your brand in the knowledge that you’re one of the good ones.

Nice guys (and girls) of the world, unite! Your time has come.