From limited edition logo swaps to Tinder profiles made for endangered monkeys, many organizations have interjected their wildlife conservation messages into the everyday lives of consumers in an effort to bring the topic to the forefront. Recently, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) pulled off its own stunt to raise awareness about the ivory trade in Singapore and the loopholes that make it possible.
Companies from all industries have turned their attention to addressing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tackling a range of issues including climate change, economic inequality, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. However, reports from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network show that in order to meet the ambitious goals set forth in the SDGs, progress must accelerate – and more organizations need to join the movement. Recently, in an effort to help companies better measure and report on their progress, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the United Nations Global Compact released a “Practical Guide” to help fast-track progress as we move towards 2030.
Smart speakers have become one of the hottest products in consumer technology with experts predicting that 56.3 million will be sold worldwide this year. Recently, Amazon, one of the largest smart speaker manufacturers, introduced Alexa Donations with Amazon Pay, which allows users to donate directly to charities through an Alexa skill, or voice activated capability. Now the iconic online marketplace is asking consumers to join in, using its assets to make a positive impact on the environment, local communities and the world.
Last week, coffee drinkers learned about Starbucks’ latest sustainability initiative – a plan to phase out single-use straws by 2020. But Starbucks isn’t the only fast-food icon exploring ways to lessen its environmental impact. Together, McDonald’s and Starbucks distribute a combined 4 percent of the world’s 600 billion single-use cups annually. And, while the two fast food giants have been making strides toward sustainability separately for years, McDonald’s announced that it will be joining forces with the coffee icon to tackle an issue that outweighs the brands’ rivalry.
According to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day – this small but plentiful waste adds up and is one of the most common items found on beaches. Now, one beverage icon is joining a handful of brands in the fight against single use straws, with plans to phase out the item from its stores by 2020.
Companies looking for more than a short-term return are embracing purpose as a business strategy, not an add-on to business as usual. And the benefits are manifold. Cone Communications recently conducted research to dig deep into what Americans think about the relationship between companies and purpose.
As more employees look to work at organizations that embed Purpose at their core, employee engagement around social and environmental initiatives becomes even more critical for leading brands. In fact, 71 percent of employees say they want their company to provide opportunities for them to help make a positive impact. In response, companies are designing new approaches to engagement, from challenging employees to achieve sustainability goals to co-creating campaigns around employee passion areas.
Americans have seen the power of their activism make a change. From boycott hashtags, student protests and outspoken employees, consumers have been a driving force for progress on social and environmental issues. But they are not always equipped to start a direct dialogue with brands about complex issues. Oxfam recognized that issue and is arming consumers with facts to help facilitate a conversation with supermarkets around the world.
June is a meaningful time for the LGBTQ+ community. What started as a day to honor a significant catalyst for the gay rights movement — the 1969 Stonewall Riots — has expanded to a whole month of reflection, education and celebration. With rainbow-adorned cities around the world hosting a number of events and parades to celebrate the community, Pride Month is an important moment in time to recognize progress made and acknowledge work that still needs to be done. And, with nearly two-thirds of consumers wanting to see companies address LGBTQ+ rights, more brands are looking to Pride Month as a way to join in the conversation and demonstrate support for LGBTQ+ causes in a more visible way.
The topic of immigration proved to be a hot-button issue in early 2017 when protests broke out at airports across the country decrying the Muslim Ban. This week, the immigration policy has once again dominated the media and divided the country as stories and images of families begin separated at the U.S.-Mexico border surfaced. However, despite the controversy, brands were prepared to take a vocal stand and support the #FamiliesBelongTogether outcry in a variety of ways that align with their company values and missions:
With World Refugee Day this month, the UNHCR hopes to continue to build momentum for this petition, which encourages decision makers to ensure three basic goals: that every refugee child gets an education, has somewhere safe to live, and can work or learn new skills to support their families.
Recently, the world witnessed the power and determination of Gen Z after they inspired over 1.2 million people in over 450 rallies in the U.S. (not to mention countless rallies worldwide) to march for gun control. Despite their young age, this generation is concerned about the state of our world, and 94 percent feel that companies should step up to address social and environmental issues. Now, one brand is harnessing this empowered group’s engagement to advocate for a variety of issues that matter most to them.
Brands and organizations shared aspirational and inspirational messages and stories throughout the week – from Vancouver’s City Manager Sadhu Johnston who explained how Vancouver plans to be greenest city in the world by 2020 to REI’s ambition to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors for all. Here are four ideas – some big and some small – that stood out to us last week:
The outdoor industry has continued to increase the stakes around accountability over the past few years, engaging consumers with storytelling initiatives and innovating supply chains to create climate-beneficial products. But how do these efforts ladder up to the overall health of our planet? One Swedish outdoor retailer is testing a new approach to gain a better understanding of the effect its operations have on the environment and how to align its sustainability missions accordingly.
With a theme of ‘Creating Change in Changing Times,’ discussion focused on how companies and nonprofits can generate compelling brand Purpose in today’s environment of rising consumer and employee expectations. With notable speakers like The Obama Foundation’s Michael Strautmanis, REI’s Laura Swapp and Save the Children’s Carolyn Miles and a series of educational breakout sessions, #EFG18 combined inspirational conversations with actionable insights for practitioners.
We are pleased to share the newly released 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study. The study, examining consumer expectations and behaviors toward companies that lead with Purpose, finds Purpose-driven brands can build stronger emotional connections with consumers that go far beyond a transactional relationship.
Many companies have begun examining their supply chains, creating traceability maps and sharing toolkits for local farmers to advance their practices and ensure sustainability. As supply-chain transparency becomes a topic of discussion among consumers, more companies are inviting their clients to be active participants in that sustainability journey. Recently, one French supermarket chain harnessed today's activist attitude to challenge what it believes is an antiquated and harmful regulation to provide its patrons with more options while supporting agricultural diversity.
Plastic pollution has become a trending topic over the past year. Companies have partnered with environmental organizations and nonprofits to upcycle plastic pollution, they have joined coalitions and launched a new initiative to address their supply chains – diverting plastic waste from our oceans. Plastic waste is such a critical issue, it was even the theme of this year’s Earth Day. With stakeholders from all industries working to decrease the impact of plastic pollutants, National Geographic kicked-off a multifaceted campaign leaning on its aptitude for storytelling in the hopes of reducing global reliance on single-use plastics.
More than one-out-of-five students in the U.S. reports being bullied, making it a prevalent topic for educators and parents. And, over the past few years, organizations and brands have joined the conversation – creating hashtags, emojis and even hidden camera stunts – to bring awareness to the issue. Now, Ikea is joining the ranks with a simple, tangible activation that demonstrates the negative effects of bullying.
The evolution of responsible business has yet again taken an exciting turn as we encounter a perfect storm. Due to omnipresent social media, an absence of government leadership on critical social and environmental issues, and near-unprecedented levels of activism across demographics, social consciousness is at an all-time high. And consumers expect companies to have a more meaningful reason for being, beyond the products they create.