Why should customers care?
I was talking with a colleague this week at a Conscious Capitalism meeting. We were exploring why customers should even care about the character of your business.
It’s a great question and an area which is shifting.
Customers look for the best deal, right? So they’re not going to let you get away with even two percent higher prices just because you think you’re the “good guy” in the industry. But there are many, many counter-examples.
At the extreme, consider outright boycotts. “I’m not going to purchase your product at ANY price because of what you’ve done.” But those are rather unusual.
Many years ago, there was a bunch of negative publicity around “blood diamonds” – those which are mined in unjust and brutal ways. To this day, many I know would refuse to purchase from these kinds of companies merely because of their character. And if you’re spending that much money, it’s worth the effort to do some digging.
Similar causes have arisen around child labor, sexual harassment, and even fair trade coffee. For many, this is a high priority factor in their decision making.
More commonly, though, the distinctions aren’t quite that severe. Perhaps in your industry, most companies are doing pretty much the same thing. There aren’t too many of them screwing up so badly that they’ll start a #metoo movement.
But that may be exactly where the opportunity lies to differentiate your company.
Imagine that you started a movement to give extraordinary parental leave to your employees. Maybe you start promoting a #familiesmatter hashtag and start encouraging other companies to do the same. You press your state legislature to start raising the bar.
Yes, it will take time. Maybe it will be five or ten years before you accomplish your goal. But along the way, you’re garnering attention and starting an important conversation. You’re taking a stand for what you believe in.
And more and more, customers will be thinking about this factor when they purchase your products. A few will switch from competitors because this happens to be a hot issue for them right now. A movement may even grow.
That’s exactly why you can build more revenue from a cause-driven company. But it’s not about slapping a “we care!!” sticker on your package and thinking you’re done. If you do have a sticker, it’s simply a visible reminder of all the truly hard work you’re doing throughout your entire business.
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