#2, March 1997
are experimenting with many ways of weaving ethics
into their culture. This newsletter examines some
of the newer efforts as consumers start to look at
the company behind the brand. The consumer search
is for attributes which are now becoming more
tangible than either price or quality where parity
has now been achieved.
in the UK shows that 83% of consumers agree that
when a brand or company supports a cause they care
about, they have a more positive image. They are
more likely to buy the brand associated with a
cause they like and they may also switch between
brands or retailers. This is the first
demonstration of a change in consumer
than three-quarters of Americans say that their
buying decision is affected by a company's
reputation about environmental issues. Yet, over
40% of Americans believe business is doing a poor
job in controlling pollution, and over 90% of
Americans believe that the public and private
sectors are doing an inadequate job of protection.
So what are the key issues to now satisfy
consumers in the late 1990s?
critical driver in terms of constructing a
competitive edge for the company is a
"good" reputation and a more powerful
relationship with all of the stake-holders. This
has created a shift towards more ethical and
consumers have become more knowledgeable about
environmental matters, sales of "green"
products have fallen dramatically over the past
five years. Shoppers have become weary of paying
more for products that perform badly. With no real
benefits, consumers have become cynical and
confused. The result is that many people have
given up buying "green" products.
it does not mean that consumers have abandoned
their search for greater morality in the
consumption process. They want real efforts
from companies and real actions, not "smoke
and mirrors." Therefore, many companies are
making greater efforts to inspire consumers'
marketing (CRM) has become a key consideration in
developing marketing strategies, becoming part of
corporate identity. A company can establish a
commercial partnership with a charity organisation
or community cause for mutual benefit.
introduced an initiative called "Computers
for Schools". For every £25 spent in a Tesco
store, customers received a voucher that they
could pass to their local school. Two hundred
vouchers bought a software package. This programme
is entering its sixth year and is being continued
because consumers remain supportive. Since the
start, Tesco has donated electronic equipment
worth £29 million to educational institutions,
supplying 21,000 computers and 80,000 items of
determination to help children's education has
both attracted new consumers' confidence and
loyalty, and assisted in building a stronger
corporate image. This is just one of the elements
which have helped Tesco to take the premier
position in the market-place.
November 1996, the New Covent Garden Soup Company
launched a special soup to help promote Crisis,
the national charity for single homeless people.
The soup's packaging was re-created for the
occasion, with an on-pack donations hotline
number. A target of £40,000 was reached.
banks now issue credit cards that enable the
owners to make a donation to a charity each time
used. As an example, the Beneficial Bank entered
into partnership with Visa and UNICEF in order to
celebrate the charity's 50th anniversary, giving
£5 to UNICEF for every successful card
Telecom has also supported a significant
number of causes or community projects relevant to
its corporate image. In 1996, it made
contributions in cash and kind worth £15 million
to projects ranging from a charity for the
homeless to environmental initiatives. British
Telecom has now moved closer to its customers with
this longer-term strategy which is advantageous
for all parties.
companies are involved in some form of
cause-related marketing. This kind of partnership
captures the consumer's attention and can move
them from passing interest to an intention to buy.
It is important to note, companies need to be
honest with themselves and establish the
credibility of what they are doing.
Fair Trade Associations
from Christian Aid found that 85% of people wanted
to see fairly-traded products in their supermarket
and that 68% would pay more for them if they could
be sure the products are ethical or
example, Cafédirect was launched in the United
Kingdom in 1992 by the Fairtrade Organisation.
This was set up by set up by Oxfam, Christian Aid,
CAFOD, Traidcraft Exchange and the World
Development Movement. The organisation aims to
manufacture and market products on a fairly traded
basis and make them available to British consumers
in the wider marketplace. The goods are marketed
in a way that benefits the people in the Third
World who do the work. At the end of 1994, Cafédirect
was in all the major supermarkets of the United
Kingdom, and had sold a million packs, reaching a
10% value share. Cafédirect was the first product
launched under the Fairtrade umbrella, followed by
Clipper Tea and Maya Chocolate.
of Disabled People
now, the disabled community has been seen as
"tragic but brave" victims. To challenge
this stereotype, Nike
used Peter Hull, the disabled athlete, in its
pre-Olympic campaign. He was chosen for an
inspirational advertisement about running a
marathon. On one hand, the advertisement was well
perceived as it challenged people's assumptions
for running the marathon, and not just showing the
disability. On the other hand, it portrayed the
disabled as "superhuman" which was
subject to possible criticism. It can be said that
companies which "dare to" represent
disability in their advertising face a risk of mis-interpretation.
need and can easily take part in shifting
society's perception in a positive way and not
only for the disabled but for other disadvantaged
sections of society. Advertising can help the
company to be seen as socially responsible and
more and more consumers are willing to make their
brand or store choice on the basis of the
company's ethical credentials, marketers have to
move away from what may be perceived as marketing
hype to genuine action.
succeed today, businesses may need to be run more
like social institutions. They should bear in mind
that acting as a good corporate citizen may have
more value than "buy one, get one-free"
promotions. They will be seen as "a credible
company" with a positive corporate
reputation, with more robust values and a
prominent corporate identity.
is better to take control of your own corporate
image before others seize the opportunity
negatively. There are various organisations
available such as Business in the Community in the
UK which can help to devise community-related