2 Steps Towards Holding Brands Accountable
Today's post comes from Ariel Ouziel, Founder of Sustainably Kind where she provides tips and actionable steps to help lower your carbon footprint and live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
There are many ways individuals can help combat climate change, but we must also consider ways that are larger than our own personal carbon footprint. Customers have the ability to influence companies and the sustainable business practices they choose to follow, which in turn affects the company's larger footprint.
How you ask?
Step One : Ethical Consumption and Dollar Voting
This refers to the idea of consumer activism, where consumers choose to support companies with similar ethical and political values as themselves. This support comes through the purchase of goods and services.
Dollar voting is a trend that has become more common in recent years. A 2018 worldwide study, by Edelman Earned Brand, found that two-thirds of consumers will choose to either support or boycott a brand based on their social and political positions. And according to Ford’s 2020 Trends Report, one of people's top concerns is environmental issues. The report showed 78% of participants are changing their behavior to help offset climate change.
And companies have taken notice.
Young generations take social consumerism into account at a higher rate. Millennials account for 30% of sales and are expected to grow in annual spending to $1.4 trillion in the United States alone, which gives them a huge influence on how companies market their brand. This has led to the influx of social issues taking priority and influencing the way many companies choose their marketing strategies.
In past generations, companies shied away from taking a stance to avoid the potential of alienating any specific audience. Now they actively choose to market based on social and environmental issues due to the surge in sales that results from it.
How do you know if a brand is sustainable? They will be transparent about it. And that means more than just using trending words such as natural, sustainable, or branding an item as "green". They will explain where the materials are coming from and what standard they follow, such as Fair Trade, AGTA, GOTS, cruelty-free or many others. Most brands who follow these types of practices are more than excited to map out the specific guidelines they are following on their journey towards brand responsibility.
Ultimately, businesses want to make sure you spend your money on their product over their competition's. So if you make it known that certain issues will convince you to buy their product, they will make a change.
Step Two : Speak Up
In order to truly get dollar voting to make an impact you must speak up. I encourage you to make it known to companies why you are not purchasing their products. If enough people bring attention to a brand's business practice, the company then has the ability to see a tangible number of sales lost and choose to make the change. This is where the true power comes in. Show companies the sales they are losing by not practicing safe and ethical methods for the environment.
One way of doing this is through media scrutiny and social media. Let your friends know. Tag the company on social media. Get the word out there. Bad publicity means losing dollars, and this is when you will see a company take action and change the way they operate.
Don’t be shy. I have spoken with the Trader Joe's manager to let him know that I won’t be purchasing my vegetables from them until they are no longer pre-packaged in plastic. Multiple comments will drive change.
We have the ability to make a difference and make brands take responsibility for the effects they have on this planet.