Ethical claims need solid foundations

Brands with a commitment to social causes certainly stand to gain a great deal from loyal, affluent consumers who share the same mindset (MW last week) but simply labelling these tactics as “ethical” is misplaced and misleading.

We need to move towards recognising “not-just-for-profit” brands those that have spotted the potential in making profit not only from effective services and attractive products but also from the strengths of their core beliefs and values.

These are brands that not only have a positive societal purpose as part of their DNA, but are also focused on making a profit, just like any other enterprise.

It’s not enough for brands to “reach people with messages about ethical issues” in order to make money from customers.

Consumers who are dedicated to social causes such as organic, Fairtrade and carbon neutral want to know that the products and brands they support are as serious about these causes as they are.

Companies will soon be caught out if they simply apply the ethical tag and don’t back it up with real commitment. It’s the brands that can show heart as well as head in this matter that will really be able to ride the crest of the social wave.

Steven Dodds, planning partner, United

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