When TOMS Shoes began its business model of providing a pair of shoes to a child in need with every pair purchased, it linked socially responsible marketing campaigns to the center of its brand identity. This has had great success, with TOMS selling 10,000 shoes in their first year alone. Since 2006, the company has provided thousands of shoes to disadvantaged children across the world and has committed to partnerships with non-profit organizations to provide care and relief to those in need.
This is the definition of a socially responsible marketing campaign — one that is married to the business itself and proves authenticity and consistency in constant action for the greater good. Various industries have realized the importance of socially responsible marketing campaigns as they impact both business growth and wider socio-political world. Socially driven, responsible campaigns mean real change and in turn, businesses can earn respect, loyalty, and even revenue.
But the bottom line should not be the focus of a socially responsible marketing campaign. A progressive and socially responsible marketing campaign can make a difference in brand identity, generational impact, and even social change — but it has to come from a place of authenticity.
With the right campaign, your business can change the world for the better.
Brand Identity and Generational Impact
Recently, the world has experienced turmoil and civil unrest that calls into question the policies and practices of many organizations. With the coronavirus pandemic and the protests that followed the death of George Floyd, the landscape of social discourse is all about responsibility. In such an environment, engaging in a marketing campaign that embraces social responsibility is especially valuable.
These campaigns can progress brand identity and inspire customer loyalty. Recently, this has often taken the form of “cause marketing,” building in loyalty programs for customers that allow them to contribute to social causes all in the context of their customer experience. This gives customers a sense of positive change while encouraging their continued loyalty.
For example, cosmetics retailer Sephora has committed to a partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition, allowing shoppers to donate their rewards points straight to the non-profit in lieu of the usual sample product. This establishes a brand identity that aligns with social justice and rewards shoppers with the ability to contribute to that cause.
According to a 2017 Cone survey, 87% of Americans were predicted to purchase from a company because it advocated for a cause they cared about. This is business that any company should be interested in acquiring, along with the added incentive of increasing funding for causes that can progress and create greater wellbeing for the broader public.
Along generational lines, social responsibility campaigns can make even more significant impacts.
Recently, a study by the Sustainability Management School of Switzerland showed that 87% of millennials believed companies should be taking steps to address “urgent social and environmental issues.” That this number aligns with Americans likely to purchase from a company that advocates for a cause they care about likely isn’t just coincidental. Millennials make up a broad share of the buying power, expected to spend $1.4 trillion in 2020, and they are looking for a brand that aligns with their values.
Aside from brand loyalty and generational impact socially responsible campaigns can generate, the actual social change created can have immense benefits both for the world and for the businesses that enact them.
Maryville University lists some of the benefits for business created by a commitment to sustainability:
- Reduced business costs through energy efficiency
- Improved reputation among consumers
- Increased competitive advantage (a sustainability report by nonprofit CPD found S&P 500 companies with sustainability strategies had ROIs averaging 18% more than those that did not)
Companies embracing the messaging of a marketing campaign that focuses on care community can experience these benefits and more as they watch important social causes receive greater attention and aid due to their efforts. These combined benefits are a big reason social responsibility campaigns seem so common in today’s marketing, but they also hinge on a level of authenticity and plausibility.
An inauthentic social campaign is likely to have negative effects on consumers, making a commitment to the values of your campaign especially vital.
The Importance of an Authentic, Socially Responsible Campaign
Social change starts from within an organization. If your business is pushing a marketing strategy that emphasizes fairness and equality, at the very least, you should maintain a clear commitment to following employment laws that promote equity.
Hypocrisy and dishonesty can damage a socially responsible campaign, breaking the fragile emotional connection that cultivates loyal buyers that tend to spend up to 50% more than those without such a connection.
Again, an international survey by Cohn & Wolfe found that 87% of customers believe it is important that brands “act with integrity at all time”. Such a large portion of consumers need to be convinced of your commitment to the change you promote through a socially responsible campaign.
In cultivating such a campaign for your own business, the example of TOMS may be useful in understanding how a commitment to authenticity can be cultivated. With so much at stake — from increased loyalty, revenues, and real social change — the importance of a genuinely socially responsible campaign cannot be understated, nor its seriousness stressed enough.
If you understand the importance of promoting socially responsible campaigns for your business, be sure to take stock of all these factors and ensure you are coming from a place of authenticity.