Online shopping has exploded this year, for obvious reasons. But because people have more time available, they are also doing a lot of online research, making sure they buy products from companies they like.
They also apply that same process to other decisions – such as deciding where to get a loan, or determining which non-profit will use their donation most effectively.
And no, it’s not just a millennial thing.
While this behavior is slightly stronger in younger people (70% of base their choices on what the company stands for), most people will research you online before contacting or doing business with you. In fact, 52% of ALL online adults in the US (including over one-third of Boomers) look for purpose-driven, ethical companies when making major decisions.
People are trying to decide if they trust you.
More and more people are paying attention to companies that help others, improve the environment, and make the world a better place. They’re looking at what you say and comparing it to what you do. They want to know how likely it will be that you’ll live up to your part of a two-way, humanlike relationship, BEFORE they make a connection with you.
That may be a big reason why some companies are joining associations for credibility, or getting certified as purpose-driven organizations. Some are even reorganizing their corporate structure. They want to be seen as one of the good guys, in order to connect to customers that care.
A few brands have already made that connection in people’s minds.
Toms built their entire company on the buy-one-give-one promise, and has provided 96.5 million kids with much-needed footwear. They have recently started donating $1 for every $3 a customer spends, so that they can support even more humanitarian causes.
Bombas has donated more than 10 million pairs of socks they won’t sell, since they are specifically engineered to be more durable and meet the needs of the homeless.
Whether any of these companies based their start on this sense of purpose or evolved into that positioning, I can’t really say. What I do know is that they are killing it. Their customers are huge fans of their efforts, and I’ve never seen any of their products on sale. Just saying.
Plus, marketing an ethical brand can add to your bottom line.
If you pay attention to the stock market, you’ve probably noticed a bigger emphasis on intangibles such as brand reputation. According to research and consulting firm IO Sustainability, companies that build social responsibility into their business usually get a healthy financial return:
- enhancing sales by as much as 20%
- increasing productivity by 13%
- reducing employee turnover by half
- increasing the company’s share price by up to 6%
- creating a “reputation dividend’ worth up to 11% of market capitalization
So, if you are an ethical company, why aren’t you sharing and living your purpose?
Just because you know your purpose doesn’t mean the rest of the world knows it. You can’t expect people to simply intuit that you are one of the good guys. You need to communicate those beliefs, and walk the talk.
What can you share that would make YOU buy from you?