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How to integrate ethical practices into your marketing

Focusing on the moral principles that govern a person's behavior or activity should be in every brand's DNA.

Why ecommerce brands should focus on ethics

What’s all the rage about ethical marketing? Well, consumers are becoming more concerned about how brands and their activities affect people and the planet. One of the reasons they’re becoming more mindful is because of the climate emergency, which has had a lot more press over the last year thanks to the activism of Greta Thunberg. Consumers care, so they expect their favorite brands to care – and now, with raging bush fires and flash floods, that doesn’t just mean having an opinion, but actively doing something about it.

What do brands need to address?

  • The health of the planet
  • Fair trade
  • Human rights
  • Decent pay and working conditions
  • People in need
Morals define the essence of human behavior. So, the reasons why consumers act must be based on inherent principles. And since brands are party to consumer actions, they have an equal if not greater responsibility to remedy the environmental and social impact of their commercial activities. A report by New Sustainability states that 92% of people are trying to live more sustainably. What’s more, 90% of consumers agree that companies and brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people. And a further 70% said they would be willing to pay more for products and services if they protect the environment and don’t infringe on human rights. Companies with a conscience could well have a competitive advantage, too; according to an Alfac survey, 82% of consumers believe that ethical brands outperform similar businesses that lack a commitment to ethical principles.

How to overcome the ethical marketing barriers

Many brands find it hard to commit to big ethical incentives because such activities are not profitable. Plus, low cash flow means it just might not be affordable. But there are alternatives brands can explore. It’s important to remember that customers will favor brands that put their ethical values first. This could mean all the difference to your loyalty and advocacy in the long run.

Start with your product image

What a brand wants to do versus what a brand can do is like every business strategy. There needs to be a reality check. But that doesn’t mean long-term goals won’t be unattainable forever. Brands can make a sustainability or charity wish list, and then tick things off one by one. Product image is one of the most important aspects of ethical marketing. Consumers will need good answers to the following:
  • Where does your product come from?
  • How is it made?
  • Who makes it and where and in what condition?
  • How is it packaged and distributed?
What can a brand do given its capacity? Some smaller businesses might think they don’t have enough resources to help or make a difference. But there’s always something that can be done. You could donate profits to a cause or pay employees to volunteer a couple of days a year. Gestures like these reflect really well on a brand and pay off later on. They add value that money can’t buy. And while quality and price are still sticking points for consumers, brand image – and the end product’s impact for good – carries weight in every market. Just think about the surge of popularity in organic foods, or how online gourmet stores have been milking the vegan cheese craze.

Scaling your sustainable activities

It takes time and work to trade as a sustainable business. But there is a growing demand from everyday consumers for retailers to raise sustainability from niche to market. There needs to be a consolidated effort to make ethical marketing common practice. Companies need to recognize that helping the environment and contributing to a meaningful cause (while trading as a business) is a bottleneck rather than a challenge. Think of it as growing pains. As your brand develops a loyal customer base and financial pressure eases, ethical marketing will take more of a center stage. Remember, retailers have an all-important role to play in promoting the sustainability of products to all their customers. It gives people a better reason to buy and puts a more positive spin on consumerism. Ethical products shouldn’t be seen as luxury nice-to-haves, but affordable must-haves that empower customers beyond a single transaction. What kind of activities constitute ethical ecommerce?
  • Active charity work
  • Sustainable and ethically sourced products
  • Good working conditions
  • Fair price and promotion (antitrust)
  • Zero waste pollution
  • Equal opportunities at work
  • Fair trade practices
  • Corporate social responsibility
The COVID pandemic has shed new light on what it means to be an ethical business. We’ve seen some marvelous examples of brands helping their local communities throughout this tough time. When life gets back to normal, people won’t ever forget these kind gestures that have made a difference. And it’s never too late to start your journey to a more sustainable business model.

Download our ethical marketing ebook

We’ve created an ebook with six ways brands can integrate ethical practices into their business. These include:
  • Contributing to a meaningful cause
  • Inspiring giving during consumer holidays
  • Making customers feel compassion
  • Communicating transparency within your brand
  • Showing ethical sourcing and production
  • Being authentic by showing that your 4Ps are fair
For more insight on these, plus real-life examples from brands in the vanguard of ethical marketing, grab your copy here.
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