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A New Marketing Strategy Businesses are Adopting

Edited by Admin
A New Marketing Strategy Businesses are Adopting

To reference Merriam-Webster’s 2017 word of the year, people are “woke”. The definition? It means that the mainstream North American population is now “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues”.

Thanks to the immediacy of information, the public is more attuned to global suffering and injustices than ever before. But how does this affect marketers? It means that consumers are expecting brands to do something about it. Brands are finding themselves, purposefully or not, aligned with the values of potentially controversial issues, and with more resources and social currency than an individual, many brands are in a position to make real change. This has given rise to an entirely novel form of marketing — one in which strategies are largely formulated reactively, or in protest. This new strategy that businesses are adopting is known as Morality Marketing.
Since the Trump Administration assumed office on January 21st, 2017, prolific, mainstream brands have been associating with political causes en masse. Following the announcement of the “immigration ban”, scores of major corporations voiced their opposition. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz responded by pledging to hire 10,000 refugees over the span of 5 years. Airbnb offered up their own stance: free housing for any and all refugees who are new to the country or barred from entry by the ban. Budweiser took a more subtle stand, by airing a commercial at the 2017 Super Bowl depicting the origins of Adolphus Busch, its founder and original brewmaker — someone who also happens to be an immigrant.
Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear retailer, states in their mission statement that “a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet. We donate our time, services and at least 1% of our sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups all over the world”. But Patagonia made news when they used morality marketing to take this a step further with their “The President Stole Your Land” campaign. As a response to Trump’s decision to approve the largest reduction of protected public-lands in U.S. history, Patagonia used their entire website homepage to protest this decision, as well as outline their commitment to stand by Native American and National Resource Defence groups fighting to save the land.
Although this wave of brand morality seems to have increased with the current political climate, it is by no means a new phenomenon. Apple has used their “Shot on an iPhone” campaigns to feature clips from all over the world, in which the subtext to promote climate change awareness is clear. Shoemaker TOMS has, since its inception and launch, been married to a social cause wherein for every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, another pair is donated to someone in need.
For brands, aligning with social or political causes is no simple feat. Everyone is entitled to their own views, their own beliefs and values. So, when a company comes out in support of — or opposition to — something, odds are, not all of its customers will be thrilled. That said, the consumers who share your values will embrace your brand with fierce brand loyalty, and new consumers who may have previously overlooked your brand will be drawn to it.
So yes, adopting a morality-based marketing strategy is polarizing, and it’s important to proceed with the utmost caution and delicacy. But history has shown us, when you stand up for something, people will stand with you.