Corporate activism is when businesses advocate for social change either through campaigning or raising awareness for it. This can include incorporating their values into their advertisements or by sponsoring social events (like the Pride parade), where their name will be tied to being an ally and advocating for the social cause.
A well-known example of corporate activism is of Ben and Jerry’s, the American ice cream company. It prides itself on being a ‘value-led company’ which is evident in their social media presence. For instance, they have published statements denouncing white supremacy and actively advocated for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. They’ve also been very open about their open-door hiring policy, which allows convicted criminals to find work after incarceration.
By demonstrating this to the public and reaching millions on social media, they’re able to build consumer loyalty by proving that they are, in fact, value-led and committed to operating ethically. This all-inclusive front appeals to the upcoming generations who are increasingly trying to purchase more responsibly, with the rise of conscious capitalism.
Fast fashion brands are now heavily criticised for being exploitative and unfair to their workers. Ben and Jerry’s, on the other hand, is very transparent about their values, claiming that they look to support smaller businesses instead of influencing the market in a way which would disadvantage them. This has made a positive impact on their engagement and growth since they follow-through on their promise of being a value-led company. Because of this, they are also held to a high standard.
People start expecting better from brands they trust. They feel betrayed if they compromise on the values advocated for. There is immense responsibility when companies decide to engage in corporate activism. They must be consistent with what they back and reciprocate the loyalty of their audience.
Patagonia is an American clothing company, one that takes pride in not being unethically sourced or involved with sweatshops. They claim to take social responsibility and even outline the fourfold vetting approach they use to ensure social and environmental responsibility. They have incorporated this information as part of their brand persona. It is tethered to their image as a brand.
Their profits as a company have always been steady, but in the last couple of years, their turnover has quadrupled because their progressive attitude, while it may be risky, has established them as a trustworthy and responsible brand for customers that align with their values .
Corporate activism, when done with good intent rather than purely for image, helps the brand establish an extremely loyal demographic. Providing ethical consumer options is a key concept of conscious capitalism. Leveraging the power and reach of social media platforms to demonstrate the values they hold dear will be respected by the consumer.
If there’s a social cause you’re passionate about but don’t really know how to incorporate into your brand, reach out to a social media marketing expert for help because it can exponentially increase engagement. Feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss a custom strategy for you.