Today’s consumers want to engage with brands that provide quality products and services and align with their values and beliefs.
These include seeking companies that demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and sustainability.
From boycotting brands that do not align with their values to actively seeking out companies that strive to foster a healthier community, consumers are now willing to go the extra mile to find the right business to support. This results in a significant shift in how businesses operate and what companies can do to align with the changing expectations of their audience. Companies must bridge the gap between awareness and action to thrive in the new era and build a more sustainable and socially responsible business.
What is consumer social conscience?
Consumer social conscience refers to the growing awareness and concern among consumers about social and environmental issues.
Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact of their buying decisions on society and the environment. As a result, they want to do business with companies that share their values and beliefs and are committed to positively impacting the world. As a result, businesses prioritising social responsibility and sustainability are gaining a competitive edge over those not.
Examples of how consumer social conscience is driving change in business practices
The rise in demand for sustainable and socially responsible products and services
Consumers are now willing to pay more for products and services produced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner, increasing demand for sustainable and socially responsible products and services. Companies that fail to meet this demand risk losing market share.
The use of social media to hold businesses accountable
Social media has become a highly influential tool consumers use to hold businesses accountable for their actions. Social media platforms allow consumers to voice their opinions and share their experiences with others, leading to companies that engage in unethical or unsustainable practices running the risk of damaging their reputation and losing customers. This has forced businesses to be more transparent in their actions and has led to an increase in socially responsible business practices.
Business transparency has become of increasing importance to consumers. They want to know how companies are sourcing their products and materials and how they are produced. Companies that are transparent about their practices and take steps to improve their environmental and social impact are more likely to win the trust and loyalty of consumers.
Strategies for integrating social consciousness into business practice
Although business practices driven by the transformation of consumer social conscience are vastly disparate from the general business practices of the pre-pandemic era, there are transparent actionable steps companies can take to integrate socially conscious practices into their business.
Being a socially conscious business doesn't necessarily mean suddenly starting massive environmental initiatives for the whole community. Instead, taking a step back and starting small is essential. This can include switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and using more recycled paper in the office, shifting staff communication, and promoting company stakeholders' general health and wellness.
Communicate business practices to consumers
There are various ways businesses can communicate socially conscious practices to consumers to build consumer trust and loyalty.
Branding and marketing
Partnering with organisations or causes that align with business values and beliefs
Involving more stakeholders in the process
By involving employees and other stakeholders in a business decision-making process, businesses can involve more voices and build support for socially conscious practices, creating a sense of ownership and commitment for everyone. These employees and stakeholders, in turn, may also share their experiences with socially conscious practices through their communication network and contribute to a business's ability to retain and attract talent and customers.
The transformation of consumer social conscience reflects the collective community's desire to build a better world. As a result, more than ever, businesses are held responsible for what they do, represent, and impact on this planet.
These changes in the consumer behaviour can potentially bring huge benefits to businesses that can successfully integrate socially conscious business practices, including attracting and retaining customers and employees, manifesting a highly sustainable business model, and becoming more financially successful in the long run.
Belinda Chan is the managing partner and founder of Creative Consulting Group. Viewpoints is an article series contributed by members of PRHK, Hong Kong'sKong's PR and communications association.