Responsible consumerism is a wave that is growing in size and rippling across the globe. As consumers become more aware of the damage that consumer culture has done to the planet and its inhabitants, we as business owners are faced with a lot of decisions to make.
As a society, we have grown to equate possessions with happiness — which isn’t always a bad thing! There are truly some items that make our lives more efficient or make us feel more confident in our skin.
However, culture has taken it to such an extreme that the earth is having a difficult time recovering. If business owners don’t start looking to the future and becoming pioneers of responsible consumerism, we won’t have a future at all.
It is our responsibility as entrepreneurs to be the innovators and pioneers of responsible consumerism.
We know that identifying with an ethical cause helps give your brand reputation a boost. Making a bigger impact on the world at large increases your reach and allows you to emotionally connect with a wider audience. You probably even have some causes you’re passionate about yourself.
The question remains: How exactly do you connect your brand with an ethical cause?
Identify Opportunities for Responsible Consumerism in Your Industry
More than likely, there is a way for you to make a direct, positive impact on your brand’s industry. Do some research into the “seedy underbelly” of your niche. What are the biggest problems reported by customers? How can you fix them by being an ethical business owner?
If you’re screen printing t-shirts, make sure you’re buying the shirts from an ethical supplier. The fashion industry is full of environmental and humanitarian horrors. It is up to you to research the t-shirt distributor and see where they source their shirts.
In the cosmetics industry, you’ve got to take a good look at the ingredients in the products you’re creating. If you make bath bombs and handmade soap, triple check all of your ingredients. See if you can source Fair Trade, organic materials as often as possible.
Maybe you do a lot of print materials, like brochures, reports, booklets, etc. One of the most environmentally responsible things you can do is use 100% recycled materials.
Financially Contribute to the Cause
Whether you can or can’t do something personally with your business to be more ethical, one thing you can always do is donate money. Getting your name out there attached to an ethical cause will identify your brand as being committed to responsible consumerism.
Some brands choose to financially contribute to the ethical cause of their choosing by donating a portion of their net proceeds to a charity. This may be done with all of their inventory, or perhaps it is just one promo item that is done for a specific cause or charity. Doing this will create consistent brand awareness and connect you to that ethical cause.
A classic fundraiser never goes out of style. Offer up some kind of incentive for the highest benefactor, and make an event of it. You can do this online, or you might want to do a local event to raise money for your cause. Either way you choose to go, you are putting your name and the charity of your choice in front of a new audience, which is a positive effect for both of you.
Let People Know That You Care
Perhaps the most obvious of tips, but sometimes it is easy to forget how you’re positioning yourself on social media to new audiences when you’ve been established for a while. Maybe the first 100 people who followed you knew that you sourced your materials from a Fair Trade Certified farmer, but anyone new coming across your brand doesn’t know that about you yet. Keep talking about the things that matter to you and your brand on social media.
Interact in niche groups with others who will appreciate your commitment to responsible consumerism. Almost every social media channel has its own way of connecting with like-minded people. Use those tools to your advantage! Let people know how you are making changes to be more kind to the world, and you’ll find your tribe growing faster than you anticipated.
If you’re a good communicator, try reaching out to niche blogs in your industry to see if they’re looking for contributors. This is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a thought leader online and reach larger audiences you would have missed before.
Do what you can to make the world a better place.
When brands choose to do things ethically, they are setting themselves apart. They are making a statement to the world, standing beside a cause, and emotionally identifying their audience with their brand. As more and more people start waking up to the desperate need for responsible consumerism, it will be even more important for you to align your brand name with an ethical cause.
Make it part of your brand’s mission to have less of an impact on the environment and ensure everyone connected to your brand is paid a fair wage for their work. Both of these issues are two of the biggest root causes of unethical business practices in the world today. By taking a stand against these business practices, you are investing in the present and the future.
Consumers have respect for brands that take the responsibility of innovating unethical business practices into their own hands. Choose to be better, and you will begin to build an authentic, positive overall brand reputation.