When it comes to social responsibility in businesses, consumers want to engage with brands that are transparent with their values. Specifically, the savvy millennial generation demands authentic brands with a morally sound approach to social justice practices.
Honesty is the best policy.
Brands must be up front with their consumers and fans. In recent headlines, millennials have had a successful track record with exposing the truth in misleading brands. Nobody likes to be fooled, especially our younger generation.
One brand proved the importance of honesty within the consumer spectrum, but not the way they would have hoped for. Naked Juice was sued for intentionally misleading and deceiving its customers and for using false and misleading labels. Naked is, in fact, made by PepsiCo and contains about as much sugar as a Mountain Dew. As a result, anyone who has ever purchased a Naked beverage felt betrayed and cheated. We compare it to the feeling of finding out your lover’s gourmet cooking is really from the curbside carry-out. Naked Juice lost their credibility and after a $9 million settlement, the company was forced to admit their product is not as natural as they led us to believe.
From the surface, TOMS shoes looks like an exceptional role model of a business with a strong social responsibility. While the One for One Movement (for every pair of shoes you buy, one pair will be given to a child in need) appears as a great effort, consumers dug deeper and discovered discrepancies. In actuality, TOMS is not so transparent with their manufacturing practices, as their shoes are made in China and are not a part of the Fair Trade organization. This revelation from millenials created a loss of trust, and ultimately a decrease in brand loyalty.
Businesses can take notes from Naked and TOMS, and strive to avoid the same mistakes. Be candid and straightforward with your consumers before they uncover the truth. Just as a friendship is built upon a sincere and authentic foundation, your brand should model the same. Be a leader with an honest, socially responsible brand, and in return, your consumers will show you the same trust and loyalty.