By Ajax Greene
In today’s business climate, change is constant. It is incredible difficult to keep up.
In this challenging environment, large companies are doing a better job communicating their values than locally owned, independent businesses, even though these large companies are better at communicating their values than they are at actually living those values. In contrast, many locally owned, independent businesses do a wonderful job of living these values everyday, but do a poor job of communicating them to their customers. Consumers can sense the discrepancy between many large businesses’ stated values and their actions, thus a huge opportunity exists for local, independent businesses.
Customers today are leading the way with their values driving significant aspects of their purchasing decisions. Thus, values-driven, local, independent businesses have the opportunity to catch up, or even lead the way in this growing trend. You can be one of these businesses.
+86% of global consumers believe that businesses need to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business interests.
+91% of US consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality.
+79% of consumers express a preference for local.
+ How companies treat employees is a leading indicator.
+87% are supportive of “being green”
+ 50% of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services. (this maybe as low or high depending on your outlook as 40% in the US).
+ 93% of consumers want to know what companies are doing to make the world a better place.
+ Customers with these values are a growing segment.
Thank you to Triple Pundit and CSR News wire for the statistics used here, including in part the Annual Conscious Consumer Spending Index. They show clarity in the customer’s mind in terms of what they want from companies, and show that the problem is they are not getting what they want in any cohesive way.
+ Buzzwords are not convincing and only 11-15% of consumers are confident about terms like “natural,” “organic,” “sustainable,” “fair trade,” “green,” and “eco-friendly.”
+ 71% of consumers report being confused by the message companies use to talk about their efforts and impacts.
Since small businesses generally don’t have the margins to compete on price, instead of being overwhelmed by daily logistics, there is a huge opportunity for them to learn to better communicate their values to consumers, which, as 40-50% of consumers are willing to pay a modestly higher price to a values-driven business, would result in increased revenue.
As a local, independent business, in addition to being able to better offer customers services and products that align with their values, you are also able to better offer an authentic and transparent buying experience.
Let me be clear, this is a growing permanent trend in the way the world conducts business. This is not going away. The earlier you are at effectively adopting this transformational way of doing business the greater the benefit to you.
How to get started? First, loose your fear of trying. No one can tell you what your values are. They must be authentically yours. Start there. Engage with your customers, they will enjoy it. You can find out where your values and theirs overlap. A perfect place to start.
This is where having a robust network of like-minded businesses is key. There is a vast pool of experience and wisdom that has already been put into practice and proven effective with regards to business. Join groups, attend seminars and conferences, network and read, and then read some more. Find advisors who can help. Tell your story.
This is a fundamental change in the way you do business. It can be fun, but not easy. Be wary of anyone or any business group that views this as a simple add-on. This way of doing business is not simply putting a coat on over what you are already doing. Remember that your customer wants deep authentic transformation and transparency.
In conclusion there are lots of descriptors of this way of being in business: socially responsible business, social enterprise, conscious capitalism, green business. I happen to like Localism and Triple Bottom line (equal emphasis on people, planet and prosperity).
Just remember to have fun with it, your customers don’t expect you to be perfect, they want you to try harder and be transparent about those efforts. You will be richly rewarded.