Social responsibility, conscious capitalism and ethical marketing are all buzzing around the internet, are being pinged across email servers and are heatedly debated in meeting rooms around the world.
Why? because those who are paid to watch out for changes in market trends have already noticed that responsible business practices are much more than hipster fads or great searchable hashtags, they are part of a real shift in business behaviour that is in direct correlation with how our relationship with the planet is changing.
Ethical Marketing is a business philosophy that focuses on promoting fairness, honesty, and responsibility in an honest and valuable way. The idea is essentially that making a profit and doing something that is responsible for the surrounding environment doesn’t have to be at odds with one another.
In the past, charities, NGOs, and social enterprises would take the mantle and fight for our rights and protect our already damaged planet against the profit obsessed wheel. Now people are asking, how can we slowly change profit based companies to also care about social and environmental values? The answer is combining the two.
The very fact that modern marketing content now always involves showing the consumer that the company has ‘real values’ is a sign that ethical marketing is not just the cherry on the cake but is actually becoming the basic recipe for successful promotion.
Some may scoff and say just because companies are starting to promote ‘green’ or ‘corporate responsibility’ values doesn’t mean they have changed, they are still making a profit out of being ethical – but that is exactly the point! It would be well intentional but entirely naïve to expect the majority of companies to significantly reduce profit margins just to do ‘the right thing’.
We are living in pragmatic times, and we understand that you can’t dismantle such an ingrained economic model without getting a bit messy and revolutionary. But what you can do is improve it and make it more in line with human nature and in balance with the planet.
Marketing also has a boundless power to affect consumer choice and so ethical marketing promotes a product or idea as honestly as possible to avoid misleading the audience. Working under the banner of integrity, value and respect also feeds into a growing hunger among consumers and so is actually a smart business decision.
Marketers by nature always have their ear to the ground, and have heard the pitter patter of changing consumer values for some time. They know that people are saturated by information and are tired of being obviously sold something or taken for a ride. Consumers are also slowly but surely prioritising companies that give back and that affect the environment in a positive way or in the very least limit their negative impact.
Which is why ethical marketing isn’t just something to appease the recycling loving millennials, it is an idea that is practical, pragmatic and slowly transforms a profit margin obsessed company into a company that still hits its targets but is part of the system of change our planet and our societies so desperately need.
Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.