BrainTrust Query: Do you believe in company Karma?
Last week, Alloy Media + Marketing released results of their fifth annual College Explorer
Study, conducted by Harris Interactive, which unveils that environmental and social responsibility influences college market spending. Most interesting is that students prefer
an honest and effective social responsibility campaign to celebrity endorsements when it comes to spending their hard-earned money.
In fact, when asked about factors that drive their purchase decisions, “33 percent prefer brands that give back to the community, are environmentally safe, or that are connected
to a cause,” states a news release.
Also revealed was that 24 percent of the students polled chose a brand based on its social responsibility stance. The top brand was Ben & Jerry’s, with The Body Shop and
Coke tied for ninth place. Burt’s Bees, Starbucks, Nike and Yoplait were also mentioned among the top ten brands.
Based on the study, it’s clear that even top brands need to take notice if younger audiences are edging towards making choices, not only on product attributes and brand positioning,
but for what they give back to society. However, it is interesting that this is the very audience most technologically savvy and distrustful of brands.
Also important is that, with a righteous crowd such as this, social responsibility encompasses many things: environmental respect, open disclosure, fair treatment of employees,
fair animal treatment, and more — often the very things bypassed in the pursuit of company profits.
A documentary called The Corporation does an excellent job of calling out poor behavior from some of today’s top companies, many which position themselves with a whistle-clean
track record. The movie follows a wave of “brand exposes,” such as SuperSize Me, Fast Food Nation and others, that portray some of our most beloved brands as carrying
Discussion Question: Does a company, like an individual, ultimately become beholden to the laws of Karma? Does it “reap what it sows” in the long run,
even if it gets by with less than moralistic behavior?
We have all worked with companies that carefully script a public story that hides a dirty reality. Many are wildly successful, even though their “karma” should be paying them
back — not only for what they’re doing to society and the environment but for the impact their actions are having on employees and other human lives.
I personally believe that success based on this kind behavior can’t last in the long run. Brands are no longer a promise…they are a promise kept. And it’s not what they say…it’s
what they do.
If a brand today says it’s one thing, but its actions are the opposite, today’s enlightened and digitally connected consumers will find out soon enough. And, they are proving
that they will raise their strong and powerful voices.
As more movement takes place to support ethics in business, hopefully this will lead to some exciting — and much needed — change.
- A Very Convenient Truth:
College Students ‘Tuned In’ to Social Responsibility and the Brands Who They Believe Are Making a Difference – Business Wire