We are in what Forrester Research calls “The Age of the Customer,” where customers, not companies, are driving business decisions. For this reason, it is more important than ever for companies to get to know their customers on a deeper level. Consumers increasingly want to know if the brand they buy fits in with their worldview and ethical standpoint. Consumer awareness, fueled by an exponential rise in natural disasters over the past few years, more information in breaking news about human tragedies in supply chains, as well as conversation around key topics such as global warming, is forcing companies to delineate their stance. Businesses need to be increasingly sensitive to a marketplace in flux, if they are to keep up with the growing gap between themselves and their customer’s mindset. No industry is immune to the current shifting sands, as people come to expect brands to mirror their altered value systems.
This rise in ethical consumerism, well documented for the last 5-6 years, is a wonderful opportunity for businesses that do good, and want to do good, to rise above the others. We see ethical businesses wanting to finally be able to prove, with rigour, that what they do is good. Gone are the days when a business could audit less than 5% of its supply chain, once every two years. Gone are the days when a business could 'list' itself in a consumer-facing scheme as a good company, without being able to provide meticulous first-hand proof of their goodness.
Ethical consumerism is increasingly marked by two characteristics:
1. 'immediacy', the delivery of information as and when it is known at the time and place the consumer wants; and2. 'veracity', the information delivered must be independently verifiable as true, and against the highest possible/available standards.
- Kahlil Gibran