If you’re a business today and want to really capture an audience – and a loyal one – you can no longer exist just to sell. Social responsibility and marketing is crucial in a world permeated by social media. Word of events spreads like wildfire meaning that everyone is now a reporter, sharing, retweeting and responding to worldwide issues as they play out.
You may have heard the term ‘woke marketing’ being thrown around recently and slightly squirmed in your seat. Being ‘woke’ shouldn’t be just another strategy to get traffic. Social responsibility in marketing should be visible everywhere. You should balance your money-making with actions that give back to society. It should also exist to gain long-lasting support and trust, whether it’s making efforts to diversify the voices in your company, combatting your business’ harmful impact on the environment, or using your influence to spread awareness of world issues.
The reason to do these things is not just because they’re right. As today’s young generation exercises their buying power, they’re increasingly voting – quite firmly – with their money. In a 2019 survey, McKinsey found that 31% of consumers in Gen Z (born after 1995) said they would pay more for products if they had a less negative impact on the environment. This was compared to 26% of Millenials (1982—1995), 17% of Gen X (1965—1981) and 12% of Boomers (1946—1964).
Considering these figures, brands should focus on attracting consumers who want to make a positive difference with what they buy – not only because these consumers are multiplying all the time as the younger generation gets older, but also because these people are more likely to stay loyal to brands that allow them to do this and are passionate about what they consume.
Branding your company as socially responsible can help you to gain the attention of these consumers. It’s important to be vocal about social responsibility in marketing but remember that people will be able to tell if it isn’t genuine.
Social responsibility in marketing: how brands are doing it
Founded by fitness Youtuber-turned-entrepreneur Grace Beverley, TALA is an athleisure brand actively champions social responsibility in marketing by aiming to create their products from 100% upcycled materials including plastic bottles and factory offcuts. They state on their website that they are ‘92% of the way there’. In terms of their packaging, it is both recycled and recyclable with their tags made from 100% plantable paper which customers can grow a plant with after they have received their products.
In their sustainability guide, titled with the sharable #ItsCoolToBeKind, Tala states that they save 4817 litres of water per tonne of recycled cotton used compared to grown cotton. Their hoodies and joggers are made with Recovertex yarn which saves material from landfill.
TALA combines their ultra-sustainable mission with on-trend, comfortable fashion design, diversity in their models and clothing sizes, honesty about their journey, and a candid social media style which their target market can identify with. Their Instagram account, @wearetala, is probably their main promotional channel due to the selfie-fuelled marketing of its ‘fitness Instagrammer’ audience. These factors have taken hold on the young and eco-conscious market, so much so that as a 9-month old brand with no external investment and a £6k marketing spend, TALA has so far achieved £4 million in sales and 80,000 orders.
In light of the recent bush fire crisis in Australia, TALA also held a week-long campaign donating 50% of all revenue from their ‘Flare’ product range to help fight the fires and those in need after the devastation.
Johnson & Johnson
Social responsibility in marketing has been a three-decade long mission for global medical and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. They have worked to provide safe water to deprived communities around the world, as well as using wind power. Johnson & Johnson also reduced pollution and used a renewable and economical alternative to electricity when it bought a privately-owned energy supplier. The company also has an aim to use 35% renewable energy in their practices.
To shout about these actions, Johnson & Johnson has a page on their website, ‘A Commitment to Caring’, which outlines their social responsibility efforts including caring for vulnerable people across the world, tackling illnesses like HIV and TB, working towards a healthier environment and their vision for the next decade. They also have sections presenting their championing of diversity and women’s rights.
These issues won’t be immediately associated with a pharmaceutical brand, but have helped Johnson & Johnson to be the influential giant that it is today. Social responsibility in marketing can work for any industry or brand, because it’s simply about giving back.
Aardman – collaboration with Greenpeace for Turtle Journey: the crisis in our oceans
Released just this month, Aardman demonstrated social responsibility in marketing by collaborating with environmental charity Greenpeace. As part of Greenpeace’s global Protect the Oceans campaign, Aardman created an animated film of a turtle family to raise awareness of the ocean crisis resulting from climate change, plastic pollution, oil drilling and overfishing.
The film sees the turtle family travelling through the ocean and eventually arriving home, before meeting disaster as a result of the ocean’s destruction. To push the wide appeal further, the animation is voiced by famous actors Olivia Colman, Dame Helen Mirren, Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey and Stranger Things’ David Harbour.
The Aardman brand is well known for its dry humour combined with stop-motion animation with amazing attention to detail. They’ve used this in their environmental appeal to great success, drawing in an already huge audience of fans of Aardman works like Wallace and Gromit.
This demonstrates that you don’t need to lose your distinctive style or voice to be socially responsible as a brand. Instead, use it to your advantage and get the message across in your own unique way.
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