When we hit pause on thinking of our target audience as 'consumers' and instead focus on their identity as people, we realise a few crucial points about their motivation. Notably, most people are pursuing happiness, and consumption of goods and services can help people feel happy.
While purchasing something of quality that satisfies a desire may provide a temporary feeling of happiness, studies suggest that, increasingly we're seeing dramatic effects on consumer happiness from companies who invest in brand and social communities that are important to their customers.
The conscious consumer is a movement motivated by the ideal that every purchase decision a consumer makes has an impact on the world. An example of this is shown below where we see a breakdown of global consumers who say it is important that companies implement programs to improve the environment:
Source: The Conference Board® Global Consumer Confidence Survey, conducted in collaboration with Nielsen Q2 2017
In this article we'll highlight the why of engaging in community issues and provide some tips for getting started!
It Humanises Your Brand
In an ideal world, most of us would prefer to deal with those we know and trust rather than strangers. Unsurprisingly, this concept also applies to our consumption habits.
There are many elements like consistency, tone of voice, convenience and strong visual elements that reinforce how every consumer feels about a brand at a superficial level, but a brand that establishes its place within our community is a reminder that there are real people at the helm and that those people might just be like us.
As more emphasis is placed upon a personalised experience when engaging with a brand, it helps if those providing the experience understand what motivates their customer in order to connect in a meaningful way.
It Can Strengthen Customer Relationships
Brand loyalty is a difficult commodity to obtain, especially in a time when there is such a high volume of choice across so many industries. While revenue is the key metric in achieving success in any organisation, the work on creating a deeper emotional connection with customers is the most effective means of cementing lasting relationships and can't be overlooked.
The ideal customer has values that align well to the brands they invest their time and money into. Brands who engage in community issues that are well aligned to these values are showing customers in a real way that they share values and that those values are more than content filling up a corporate profile or an office poster - but instead authentic drivers of culture.
A great example of a brand taking action and engaging in a community issue well-aligned to their core values is the Airbnb "We Accept" ad campaign. The campaign launched at the Super Bowl shortly after President Trump signed orders to close American borders to refugees. Airbnb actively promotes their culture of 'a world of belonging' and the below campaign was a perfect way to take action against a policy directly opposed to their organisational focus of inclusivity:
It Opens Doors to Future Opportunities
While the Airbnb example is large-scale and is backed by a fairly significant budget, there are opportunities with local, state and national not-for-profits who are always looking for brands to partner with in order to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes.
Bakers Delight in Australia have been partnering with Breast Cancer Network Australia for over 15 years and the two businesses have grown side-by-side since then with well integrated brand presence and regular activations with proceeds funding breast cancer support activity. This type of relationship positions BCNA as a reliable, well-supported Aussie charity and Bakers Delight as a strong brand with heart.
Tips for Engaging in Community Issues
Provided the motivation for engagement in a community issue comes from a desire to give back in a genuine way and makes sense based on the brands positioning and values, this will be transparent to customers. We've talked a little about what community engagement should look like for brands and why it's a great idea - it's also important to talk about what it isn't.
- Support of a cause or initiative with no alignment to brand or values
- Support of a cause or initiative that is obviously designed to generate profit or combat negative press
- Engagement in initiatives that appear opportunistic or taking advantage of a situation to self-promote
It is becoming so important for brands in 2019 to become aware of their influence and to use that influence for good. Consumers have high expectations for brands that they trust and a huge part of that expectation is around the responsibility to take as little from the community and give as much back as possible.