Faaria Ahmad, Programme Manager at Think Global, reflects on the rise of small companies and entrepreneurs branding themselves as ethical and environmentally-friendly, in turn targeting and encouraging conscious consumers.
Have you noticed the increase in companies highlighting how ethical, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, locally sourced or fair trade they are? The product and services range seems to be increasing too – from cleaning and gardening products to restaurants and fashion. Could it be that there is now a generation of CEOs and Executives who want to make this world a better place? Who want to pay a fair wage at the grassroots of the supply chain? What has changed? What has created this shift in how companies brand themselves?
This phenomenon has not been initiated by big companies suddenly realising that it isn’t all about the bottom line, but rather by small companies and new entrepreneurs who are willing to disrupt the status quo, and are succeeding in this. Some of these are conscious consumers who have realised that the products and services out there were not in line with their values and lifestyle. Others wanted to launch brands which are different and creative. It isn’t simply about having a company which is ethical – impact and change can only come about if these ethical companies are sustainable and successful.
Companies with an ethical ethos have struggled to compete with the more established companies. For example, if you want to ensure you pay your employees fairly from the beginning of the supply chain to the end, costs will be higher, therefore consumers will be charged more, and this narrows your consumer base. However, through campaigning, clever branding, and using online platforms – these companies are finding ways to appeal to a broader consumer base.
It is companies like the new toilet tissue brand called The Cheeky Panda who are inspiring a new generation of people to rethink everyday habits. Do we think about how our toilet roll was made? What chemicals were used to make it? Do people who make our toilet rolls get a fair wage? Andrex and Kleenex have always been leading brands for tissues in the UK – if Cheeky Panda is successful in making them rethink how they operate, maybe there is hope in changing how other mainstream companies operate.
As consumers we have a key role to play through the choices we make.”
In reality it can sometimes feel overwhelming. So don’t think about the million changes you have to make in your life to be a more conscious consumer, make one change. Collectively the change we decide to make may create positive shifts in the status quo.
Blog by Faaria Ahmad