I've been consistently of the view that, especially over the last 5 years, businesses must ensure that they focus on being socially conscious if they want to maximise their appeal to consumers. My basis for this is primarily, amongst other things, the interest that so many people share in social outcomes based on their vicarious connectedness, through social media especially.
Something that a corporation does or supports which negatively affects a group of persons will feel the wrath of other persons not affected, because our experiences are able to be shared so rapidly amongst so many people.
Conversely, something that a corporation does or or supports which has a positive impact on a group of persons can, obviously, be shared amongst many people in a rapid fashion in the same way. According to data analytics company Nielsen, over two-thirds of consumers now are more willing to spend more money in order to support socially-conscious companies than those who have no social impact.
Recently, we've seen an alarmingly consistent theme in several advertising campaigns that have been airing. Each of these campaigns have been demonstrative of the embarrassing consequences that a company faces when it neglects the 'social' and becomes infatuated with the 'capital'.
The first, and most notable, of these examples is Facebook. In the early months of 2018 the social media giant came under scrutiny for allowing third party organisations to have access to users' data and information, in exchange for a form of financial consideration, for that organisation to use in tailoring advertisements and marketing towards specific individuals. The founder of Facebook was brought before a very public inquiry and has since launched an advertising campaign apologising to users for moving away from what Facebook envisioned as its primary purpose.
The second example we can turn our attention to is that of US banking giant Wells Fargo. The banking power came under scrutiny at a Senate Inquiry for an account-sales scheme where employees were directed to create accounts in customers' names, without their consent, in order to meet sales goals. The matter was settled in late 2016 when Wells Fargo agreed to pay out over US $180 million to aggrieved customers. Of course, now, Wells Fargo realises the consequences of their decision to think purely about capital with no regard to their social impact, and has launched an ad campaign with the apology tour now in full swing.
More locally for me is the instance of the 'Big-Four' Australian banks. Having been subject to a Royal Commission through March-April 2018, the public was enlightened on the corrupt practices of the banks, charging deceased customers for account fees, forging documentation, and entirely misleading customers. They became obsessed with capital and did not care, at all, about their social impact. Now what? How did they amend their mistakes? You guessed it... an apology ad campaign.
It doesn't take too thorough an analysis to find the overwhelming theme between these cases as three specific instances of what has been an inherent problem with corporations for centuries. The obsession with capital has driven corporations for so long that it has driven the good-conscience out of businesses a long, long time ago.
Thankfully, we have the globally-connected network of individuals on social media and other internet-based forms of communication to lead the way in bringing about change. As mentioned earlier, the impact that the simple messages on social media, shared amongst people, and picked up by bulletins across the world can have in bringing about change can hardly be overstated. Businesses who rely on consumers now must return to their core values and spend time finding their moral compass if they're going to prosper in the current climate. Impact is measured by reference to the social sphere as well as by reference to it's capital situation.
Consumers have obtained a real sense of power and it can be used to make the world a better place. Businesses, and consumers, should not forget the impact they can have on creating a lasting positive social change.