The average American continues to find more income in their pocket to spend as they like, whether that be on savings or in stores. The most recent statistics from TE, released in May 2019, show U.S. shoppers have $16 trillion to spare in disposal personal income, a growth of nearly half a trillion dollars from June 2018. With this extra cash, more and more Americans are choosing to shop ethically, the process of paying a little extra for a product you know didn’t harm anyone on its way to the shelf. This poses a unique challenge for marketers — even if the retailer is squeaky clean, how do you impress that upon consumers?
Social Media Is Key
The drive towards ethical consumerism has been spearheaded by Millennials. As many as 73% of Millennials will pay more for sustainable goods, according to Inc. With 36.5% of the population at or around that age, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, this is easily the largest consumer market. How do Millennials like to get their news and views? Social media. In fact, 72 million Millennials are connected to social media channels.
When looking at your marketing strategy, it’s advisable to look at dedicated digital marketing roles on your team to leverage the potential of these channels. The face of social media changes rapidly and what’s effective one week may not be another.
E-Commerce has benefited from creating a lower carbon footprint than physical locations, but advances in retail stores mean that brick-and-mortar is catching up. Retailers now must cater to environmentally friendly consumers, who are a key part of the ethical drive. To this end, Forbes recommends targeted zip code campaigns. The idea here is that you can promote local business — another key aspect of ethical consumerism — and reduce any carbon footprint from traveling by having consumers appear at the door.
Co-Opting Serious Campaigns
One of the most potent ways to generate a positive brand image and pull in ethical consumers is through sponsoring causes. Look no further than British ethical beauty juggernaut Lush, which reported 57% growth through 2017 and generated revenue of nearly $1.17 billion in 2018. Through making ethical campaigning part of its core ethos, and donating a portion of its funds to tackling animal testing, they have created a cogent brand image that has been drawn on by other industries. Marketing to the new, ethically driven consumer generation requires a degree of honesty. It’s crucial to not only vouch for important causes but to integrate them as part of your core strategy.
The new consumer is an ethical one, and marketing strategies must take stock of this fact. Emphasize the benefits of your business, engage relentlessly through social media and genuinely and honestly co-opt good causes that relate to your business as you know it. This will help your retail business to not only survive but prosper.
Jennifer Dawson is an experienced freelance writer who specializes in retail, food and nutrition.Outside of work, Dawson enjoys traveling, swimming and spending time with her young family.