Rise of the conscious consumer.
Who are conscious consumers and do they really matter to brands? The answer is yes, absolutely. Conscious consumers — a movement of people who consider the ethical implications that their purchases have on the world — are on the rise. Setting themselves apart from other audiences, they are conscious, conscientious and critical, and they want to see evidence of authenticity, sustainability and transparency. They’re not interested in marketing jargon, bright labels and loose claims. Instead, they want a meaningful interaction with brands that show they really care about the world.
This growing audience has become increasingly influential, seeing brands appear and disappear with their buying power. While conscious consumers look for more honest and ethical products, big brands sink and smaller ones grow. So, if brands want to survive in an ever-competitive market, they need to listen, understand and offer what’s important to these conscious consumers.
It’s thanks to the advance in technology that savvy shoppers find it easier than ever to find and share information. With more access to information online, customers are able to do their homework by reading reviews and looking into company production processes. And whatever a brand omits, a conscious consumer is sure to find.
The growth of social media has seen an increase in consumers voicing their opinions and concerns about brands, opening up a greater public platform for conversations about their ethical motivations. And just to apply the pressure, there are even ethical brand comparison sites available to help shoppers make their decisions.
However, social media isn’t just a place for consumers to discuss their views about brands; it’s another opportunity for brands to be open, honest and transparent through content and community management. In fact, a report by Sprout Social revealed that “53% of consumers said they would be more likely to consider brands that are transparent on social media for their next purchase, while a lack of transparency might lead 86% to purchase from a competitor.”
When a brand is transparent it empowers consumers to have control over their buying decisions. If information is easy to access, it tells consumers that the brand has nothing to hide and that they care about the needs of their customers. In turn, transparency earns trust and drives loyalty, for “nearly nine in 10 people are more likely to give them second chances after bad experiences and 85% are more likely to stick with them during crises.”
In an age where customers are becoming increasingly sceptical, consumers have a better sense of what is authentic and what’s just marketing jargon. Cohn & Wolfe’s 2017 International Survey revealed that 87% of global consumers “rank authenticity over innovation and product uniqueness.” So today there is an ever-increasing pressure for brands to stay true to their core values, and simply changing a marketing approach to reach conscious shoppers won’t wash. The Craftory co-founder, Elio Leoni-Scenti says, “when a brand tried to dress up differently, consumers disassociate and don’t engage.” In short, consistency is key to authenticity and brand core values need to be honest and transparent from the roots up.
Do some good for the world
It’s not just authenticity and transparency that conscious consumers are looking for. Sustainability plays a huge role in winning the hearts of these well-informed shoppers. Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report revealed that 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. But long gone are the days when a sustainability label did the trick! It’s no longer about what brands say their product does, it’s the truth behind how the product got there and what it’s doing for the greater good of the world. Conscious consumerswant to know exactly how a product was made, where it was sourced, the materials it was made from and how purchasing it will impact the world around them.
Put simply, conscious consumers want to know everything about a brand before they buy-in. From food to fashion — whatever the industry — the same rules apply.
So who is selling consciously?
This shift in consumer values has seen a rise in large corporations jumping onto the ethical bandwagon. For example, L’Oréal unveiled its first vegan hair dye last year, and Unilever partnered with big charities like Oxfam to develop sustainable living plans and community engagement programmes. But importantly, the rise in conscious consumerism has presented an opportunity for independent, Feel-Good Brands to shine, and the industry is even rewarding them with hallmarks of goodness.
It’s smaller brands like Abel & Cole, Ella’s Kitchen, The Primal Pantry and Psycle London that are winning the hearts of conscious consumers by forming a positive emotional connection through authenticity, transparency and an honest desire to make the world a better place. While Abel & Cole aims to make a viable, ethical alternative to the weekly supermarket shop, Ella’s kitchen aims to help kids discover that healthy food can be fun and tasty. And while The Primal Pantry wants to make the paleo and primal lifestyle more accessible, Psycle London aims to promote exercise classes that inspire people to lead vibrant, energetic and happy lives.
Done right, acknowledging and addressing the rise of consumer consciousness presents an opportunity for brands to install greater purpose, and benefit people, the world, and long-term profitability.
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