The economy has changed, so have the products and services that are offered to customers, and so have the customers themselves. In today’s world businesses have to provide a lot more value to ensure that their customers are satisfied and retained. While earlier it was easy to get a loyal audience simply by consistently delivering the same product on time, today, companies have to work a lot harder to retain their preferred paying audience. This is because the new consumer is more informed and conscious in their ways of spending. More awareness in regards to commercialization, globalization, and the economy is available at people’s fingertips than ever before. Through social media customers worldwide can discuss their purchases, the companies they support, and why they are promoting certain products. The younger generations are also a lot more interested in learning about companies that are purpose driven, they look for brand stories, and since very soon these are the very generations which will dominate the audience with purchasing powers, it has become ever more essential for companies to step up and showcase their values. They do not just expect this of big businesses or only certain industries, whether a company is running an online casino or an e-commerce website, the expectation for purpose remains constant. Customers today don’t just require a short mission statement about purpose but expect companies to actively support anti-racist campaigns, demonstrate their support to a variety of communities, showcase their responsibility towards the environment, and give back a percentage of sales to charity for the same.
One of the most important areas of social responsibility companies have today that customers expect them to speak about and make changes for is the environment. The rise of sustainability, veganism, and eco friendly products shows that companies are abiding to the changing times. It also shows that startups today are starting out mainly because of their purpose and mission. A lot of companies have started because certain business owners found a necessity to make a change or create products for customers looking for something different. Sustainability is definitely one of the most important aspects in business today especially within the fashion and footwear industry which account for a large percentage of water pollution. More companies are starting out that utilize recycled materials to create their products, while also producing organic materials in a sustainable way to help the environment. Big brands are not far behind with companies such as Steve Madden launching brands like Cool Planet which aim to create products that satisfy the conscious consumer.
Moreover, due to the conditions in which animals have recently been found in, more and more people are turning vegan. Recent surveys also found that many farmers markets were not even selling red meat and poultry due to the decreasing demand, and the funding and attention provided to plant-based meat market has also been increasing, with more customers shifting towards the vegan meat option. Therefore, consumers expect companies to be cruelty free and vegan, and this is not solely for the food industry. The makeup industry is one which has been largely impacted by the growing demand of cruelty free products as it has always been one of the markets which harms the most animals during the testing phase of production. Brands like Lush Cosmetics are definitely using this to their benefit, showcasing their incredible products which not only save the environment but also support animal welfare.
Another aspect of the industries which has changed because of people’s growing awareness is ethics. Ethical production has been seen as an essential part of any purpose driven business. The mindset behind it is crystal clear, why support a business that gives back but does not pay its employees. Ethics play a major role in attracting customers especially within the fashion industry. A lot of big brands were exposed recently for unfair worker treatment as well as for hiring laborers across Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and India, and not paying them living wage. While finding cheap labor has been a common practice amongst large manufacturing companies, the customer today finds it to be unacceptable. Most customers stop buying from companies when they hear about unjust treatment of workers. Ethics have thus become an important factor within companies when showing their purpose. Moreover, several startups have begun to use ethics as a basic code for running the business, priding themselves upon high paid employees, paid vacations, maternal and paternal leaves, and mental health support. Ethics are not just changing the markets, therefore, but also changing the lives of people that work within these industries, creating better working conditions than ever previously experienced.
There are several other aspects which can make a company purpose driven, whether that is through supporting the campaigns that matter to them or starting out simply to help a certain community. For example, many companies have been started by members of the LGBTQ+ community after feeling left out in the workspace as well as after recognizing patterns of bullying and unethical treatment amid large firms. In addition, customers also expect companies to show their support to campaigns online, whether that be against the harmful treatment of immigrants or the protests to reduce climate change. Purpose driven companies don’t just mean companies that have a singular focus on their product, but companies that aim to be part of the change with the customers that they aim to attract.