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James Ashe, Managing Partner

James Ashe, Managing Partner

Ethical Consumption: The Importance of Brand Values

An overwhelming 84% of customers take a company’s ethics into account before making a purchase, so it’s more vital than ever to keep a close eye on your brand proposition and manage your reputation accordingly.

We all do our research before we buy something online, and often before we buy something off the high street. In previous years, this would have been mostly to do with the price of whatever it is we’re after, but these days, customers are quick to suss out whether a company aligns with their ethics.

In a survey of 2,000 consumers, 45% said that they would be more likely to buy if the company in question was environmentally responsible, while 44% said that they would prefer to buy from a business that supported the rights of workers. 

We live in an era where information is available at your fingertips and rumours spread more quickly than ever, so we see this in action every day. If you see an ad for Nestlè in your Facebook feed, it’s no doubt littered with comments decrying alleged environmental wrongs and shady business practices. 

The same goes for The Body Shop – while the brand was initially built on a firm ethos of no animal testing, its sale to L’Oréal in 2006 called its cruelty-free credentials into question given that the cosmetics giant sells in China, where animal testing is required by law. Even though the company is no longer owned by L’Oréal, negative comments were still flooding in on social media posts across the year.

The difference between the two companies is stark though. Whenever any grumblings arise, The Body Shop’s team are quick to act, responding to individual comments with the correct information and assuaging concerns, so the net number of negative comments has considerably decreased. On a recent Nestlè ad, there were no such tactics and instead, comments were left to build up and continue to do so.

A proactive approach to protecting your reputation is always the best one, so while The Body Shop’s approach has definitely helped, it’s even better to get ahead in the first place. An inside-out understanding of your brand values and your proposition means that you can lock down your position from the start, and if there are any problematic aspects you need to address, it’s best to tackle those head-on and ensure you have a plan in place for dealing with them. 

It’s vital to keep an eye on what’s being said about you and where – whether that’s on social media, on review platforms or in the press. But it’s also vital to make sure you’re putting out the right messages on your own platforms. If you’re confident in your brand and your brand values, then don’t be afraid to shout about them – make them a core part of your marketing and you’ll be sure to attract the right kind of customer. 

# Brand, Reputation Management, PR