The New Table Stakes
To ease us back into the workweek, it seems appropriate to embark on an easy to digest guide on what brands should be doing in August 2019 and beyond.
The new table stakes. What are some basic ways in which brands must behave in order to be relevant in 2019? The kind that are do-not-pass-go imperatives that brands should tackle immediately. This isn’t about marketing tactics or social media hacks but real, tangible business transformation that companies must get on board with because their customers are demanding it. Truth-be-told, I’m completely biased by my raison d’être in using brand strategy to create some lasting good in the world. But these are very conscious biases.
Inclusivity. Whether you’re a makeup brand raising the bar on the number of possible foundation shades or a big box retailer offering clothing for children with disabilities, forward behaving brands are championing inclusion as a moral imperative to meet the needs of customers where they are. Who are people within your category that have been historically underserved and how can you ensure that they can experience your brand? It’s a simple question that needs to be answered and addressed in this new, and overdue, age of inclusion.
A purpose-offering connection. If you’ve paid attention to the branding world, by now, the idea of a purpose-driven brand is old hat. Purpose has lost its meaning. Purpose washing is the new green washing. But let’s get real. Consumers, and the world, still want and need companies to act with a purpose. 91% of Millennials would switch brands for one which champions a cause and 64% of global consumers say they choose brands because of their stand on social issues. With an endless feed of corporate responsibility promises, how do brands get people to remember the good deeds that they accomplish? By connecting their purpose with their brand. It seems obvious. Sell shoes, give away a pair of shoes. Marketing agency Shelton Group, focused on sustainability, recently found that 64% of Americans believe companies should provide ongoing support for issues that align with the types of products or services they offer. So how are your corporate responsibility efforts and purpose connected to your offering?
Push the limits on what it means to be sustainable. Whenever I think about how terrifying it is that most plastic isn’t recycled or that we’re in a period of mass extinction, or that our government is rolling back environmental protections just when we need it the most, I think about plastic straws and how quickly they disappeared from New York City cafés. I think about the private sector working together on an experiment in sustainability through Loop that can hopefully be a model for across-the-aisle collaboration in service of the greater good. I think about how more than half of Millennials said in 2016 that they considered the environmental impact of products when making purchase decisions and that Gen Z is willing to spend 10 to 15 percent more on sustainably produced clothing. Brands owe it to their customers, and the future of humanity itself to find the most sustainable ways of delivering their products, and customers are demanding it.
These are not easy solutions, but then again, we’re not living in easy times. So whether you’re a brand manager having to sell this up the chain or a brand strategist, eager to help guide your client towards more sustainable business practices, you have the power to help make a small difference. What would you add?