It’s simple. It’s one single word.
On the back on an economic crisis in 2008, suspicion and dubiety has become increasingly prominent in our society. Uncertainty about the future generated fear, austerity measures were in place, and the luxury of purchasing consumer goods shrank.
Together with this, there’s been a dramatic increase in social media usage. People are connected more easily. We can build a fanbase with anyone, from anywhere, of any background.
Fast-forward only a few years and we’ve witnessed an undying hunger for change by the people, ensuing a dramatic change in the political environment. We’ve witnessed whistleblowers angrily spoiling the current system, for the greater good. We’ve witnessed angry consumers, misled by hidden corporate practices and ashamed of their favourite brands.
Today, people can get together for a cause in a matter of minutes. Missile strikes in Damascus are secret for a few seconds only as live videos are shared across the world on Facebook. Oil spills threatening habitats are dealt with via online petitions, to then be raised in parliament and tribunal. Subtitled videos with stock footage informing estimates of more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050 are a viral success.
But, really, what does all of this mean for your social enterprise?
You know all the terms coined by millennials for millennials such as ‘conscious consumers’. You know that consumers are demanding transparency. You know that you know you want to know exactly what you’re buying. You want your hard-earned money to not only get you the things you want, but you want to ensure that it does not contribute to the rising oceans, desertification, habitat destruction, increasing poverty, human exploitation or modern slavery…you want to ensure that your children and grandchildren are gifted a planet to be proud of.
You also know that marketing trends use ethics in their strategy. To the point that if a corporate announces a new corporate social responsibility programme, you immediately doubt it and soundly state ‘It’s another publicity stunt!!’.
All of this means that building trust and maintaining loyalty has become even tougher.
It means that in 2019, the trend will reach its peak. Those who tap into this opportunity, will profit the most. And how will you, as a social entrepreneur, match the efforts of corporates? You’re not going to match them. You’re going to be the trendsetters of this movement. You’re going to initiate a movement of full-cycle transparency.
Full-cycle transparency is a holistic, almost radical approach to marketing your company, brand, and product. If you discipline yourself to be transparent in at least the following:
- Sourcing of your product’s raw materials
- Manufacture of your product
- Packaging of your product
- End-of-life of your product
- Delivery of raw materials and products
- Fair pay to all the workers involved
- Your beneficiary
- Revenue and cash flow
Then, you will take a giant leap towards obtaining the trust of the consumers in your market, and build loyalty that’s rare among for-profits.
There are a variety of tools and means you can use: videos, articles, first-hand evidence, consistent documentation, case studies, annual reports, public monthly updates of cash flow and distribution of profit, among many others. Use your creativity. Ensuring a full-cycle transparency, governed by fairness, equality, and sustainability right from the outset will make you stand out as a leader and pioneer in not only the social enterprise community, but also in your market, and the consumer world.
Décio Emanuel is a consultant specialising in social enterprise