You get enough brands of a similar type in one market, and something has to give. Usually, someone will rock up with a cheaper way of doing things, take a chunk of the market share, and then things’ll sort of continue in that manner until everyone’s compromising their values to keep sales up. To be fair though, sometimes it can work. For example, DataWind’s new £10 smartphone will bring modern technology to people who have been historically unable to afford it. And, to bang an old drum, Dollar Shave Club trims off all the bells and whistles to offer quality razors, at a fair price.
The key here is that these examples aren’t just cheap for cheap’s sake; they’re cheap as a point of difference; to make a difference. Both of these brands saw a market that was too expensive for people to access, and thought about it from a new perspective. So, cheap can work, but it’s just one possible outcome of putting your thinking hat on. In these examples, it’s just a way of doing good.
Countless successful brands in a variety of sectors do it; Lush, famously, for their bold political standpoints; Toms, for their 1-for-1 approach to footwear. These companies put their cause right in the centre of what they do; those that put social responsibility in the corner and use it to balance out the bad they do just doesn’t work anymore. It’s not decorative. As The Guardian puts it, ‘It is only through a genuine desire to do good that we can become the meaningful and significant brands that our customers want us to be.’
Many people are ambivalent when it comes to this kind of proposition, but the statistics don’t lie.
Thanks to ColumnFive for the infographic.
That said, while everyone should make an effort to make the world a better place, it’s a mistake to just bolt a cause on top of your business. Consumers are particularly adept at outing ‘Causewash’ brands, and it can do a whole lot more harm than good.
Have a good product or service, be trustworthy. Just know that if you’re not driven by an authentic sense of purpose, you’ll be condemned to the fate of the price war.
Folk help brands to uncover their purpose every day. For more information, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.