It’s a phrase we’re hearing more and more but what does ‘Conscious Consumption’ really mean and how does it impact the business community?
The idea of conscious consumption relates to how we, as consumers choose to spend our money. Rather than purchasing an item or a service based on the price or need alone, conscious consumers are choosing to take into account other considerations before they buy. Whether that’s the environmental impact of the product, how ethically it has been produced, or the social impact of the company we’re considering shopping with, being a conscious consumer means that everything is relevant.
This is definitely a shift from more traditional ideas of consumerism where companies were prepared for consumers to evaluate the cost of their offering relative to its value and no more. Expectations on companies are vastly different now and it’s important for any businesses hoping to grow and scale to have in mind what consumers are looking for.
Factoring in space and time to research into your industry, and how your company can respond to the needs of conscious consumers is an essential part of any business strategy. We’ve rounded up a few key areas to have in mind when preparing your offering:
The key to all positive relationships is communication and it’s not different with customers. Take time to think through your brand story and the evolution of your product or service. Where is it coming from? How is it manufactured? What environmental and social impact does it have? How do you manage your team? What are your plans for the future? These are all big questions but the more you understand about your own process, the better. Once you’re clear on all aspects from inception to delivery and after, it’s time to tell your customers. Use your website, your social platforms, and all other customer communications to tell the story of your company. Be open about how you manufacture, about your plans to improve, about the contributions you make to your local economy. The more information you provide your customers up front, the more they will trust your brand and feel that when there is scope for improvement, you will take that on board and make change.
Partner with care
Whether you partner with a supplier, or recommend investments with a startup, know who you’re getting into business with. The environmental, ethical, and social impact of your partners or affiliates will inevitably reflect on you so it’s important to know as much about their business as you do of your own. Choose partners whose brands mirror your ethos and your priorities, whose products or service fulfil the goals you have for your own, and who through partnership, may help you to improve and shape your strategy going forward. Every partnership should add to your business rather than prove to be a liability.
Small or big, make changes
It’s not enough to talk a good game here. The years of greenwashing via marketing campaigns are behind us. Consumers are educated enough to expect real change and action from the companies they choose to spend their money with. That might be small but whatever it is do it properly. Whether it’s donating a percentage of sales to a local charity, or retooling your production process to lower CO2 emissions, each action will be different, but each is valuable. You may want to start with your labour conditions, making sure your employees are working under the best possible conditions. Or perhaps you’re planning to change your supply chain to use more locally sourced materials? Whatever steps you choose to take, take them carefully and keep moving forward.
Look for skeletons
If you’re scaling your company, take a look into your archives and make sure there are no uncomfortable practices or relationships that might come back to haunt you. Business is a learning curve and making mistakes is very much part of success, but it’s how you handle the problems that marks you out. If you realise that some of your supply chain in the past was not ethically optimal, or that environmentally some of your products were not acceptable, be up-front about it. Show that changes have taken place, that you recognise the issues looking back and that these mistakes are informing your company strategy moving forward.
The big picture is great but start in your own office. Making small changes in the way that your team work is an important place to start. Energy saving in the office, working from home where possible, recycling as part of your shipping process, there are many things that we all do within our own business that can be improved so while you’re planning your strategy on an outward trajectory, don’t forget that there are fundamental changes you can make at home first.
The catalysts for consumers to be more conscious are coming thick and fast. From wildfires to Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg to a global pandemic, demands for responsibility and future proofing our planet are not going away. Business must keep up, they must increase their transparency and they must work hard to make the services they provide to customers more sustainable.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories [https://www.goforitni.com/success-stories/] and get in touch [https://www.goforitni.com/get-in-touch/}. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.