In days of yore, selling quality products and services at reasonable prices was fundamental to the success of many companies — while innovation and customer service excellence added a competitive edge.
But with the internet opening up a wealth of consumer choice and corporate social responsibility hitting the headlines, sophisticated consumers are now factoring in ethics to their purchasing formulas.
They want to know that products are sourced sustainably and businesses care about issues like fair pay, animal rights and environmental impact — as well as profits.
So if you’re looking for a way to differentiate your business while doing your bit to make the world a better place, targeting conscience-based buyers might be a profitable plan.
To spur your imagination, here are three sectors with caring customers.
- Health and wellbeing
According to a September 2018 report by Persistence Market Research, the global market revenue for organic and natural personal care products will increase to US$29.5 billion — a compound annual growth rate of 8.3%.
The report cites an increased consumer awareness of the harmful effects of toxic ingredients in synthetic personal products and growing interest in natural anti-ageing products as two factors which will drive the projected expansion.
If you’re already in this line of business, replacing synthetic lines with organic alternatives is a wise move.
But if you’re starting from scratch, ensuring that all the products you stock and sell are 100% ethically sourced is an even more robust business model — this is the approach favoured by wellness brands like Kijani Living which have been in the organic market for many years.
Making it as easy as possible for customers to make an ethical purchasing decision is a powerful and persuasive offer — when they automatically know that you’re legitimate and operate with integrity, you’re one step ahead of the competition.
Veganism is on the rise — a 2016 Vegan Society poll indicated that in Britain alone, in the preceding 10 years, the vegan population had grown from 150,000 to 542,000.
So if you’re in the specialist food sector, that’s a lot of health-conscious mouths yearning for tasty meat-free treats.
And vegan companies like Vivera are meeting the demand head-on with flagship products such as a completely plant-based steak which looks, tastes and even ‘bleeds’ like genuine meat.
According to a May 2018 report by the Coventry Telegraph, supermarket giant Tesco sold 400,000 of the Vivera steaks within days of their release on shelves, proving there’s certainly an appetite for vegan products.
It takes a lot of research to make a plant-based product taste like meat, so you’ll need passion, determination and culinary expertise to compete in this niche.
If you purchase your fair share of rugged clothing, it’s fair to presume that you spend a significant portion of your work or leisure time outdoors — and therefore, due to increased exposure if nothing else, might be more conscious of environmental concerns.
And outdoor clothing brands like Jack Wolfskin are acutely aware that having an eco-conscious cachet possibly makes them more attractive to customers.
So this German great outdoors brand promotes a transparent supply chain, uses organic cotton, stands against nanotechnology and fur and promotes responsible down certification in all of its products.
It also carries products like hiking jackets which are crafted from recycled materials, is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and has committed to making all of its clothing free from harmful PFC chemicals by 2020.
The lesson from this company is aligning your environmental responsibility policies with the probable ethics of existing and potential customers — it requires commitment, but can pay off in terms of securing loyalty and projecting an authentic image.
So there are three sectors where ethical credentials can give you a competitive edge — perhaps one of them will let you stake a claim to commercial success.
Do you buy ethically? Share your thoughts in the comments section.