Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
It’s the age of the ethical consumer. Nowadays, people don’t just buy a product because they want it or they need it, but they also look for products that align with their values and ethics. Consumers are growing increasingly aware of the implications of their purchases on a global, environmental and human level. As a result, more and more companies are devoting resources to corporate social responsibility, or CSR, initiatives.
Fashion brands especially have a complicated relationship with CSR.
It is important to build a business based on strong values and ethics. As a business in the fashion industry, here are some ways to combine your CSR initiatives with PR efforts:
Know your supply chain and enforce strong labor standards
Make sure you know where your raw materials and products are coming from and ensure that the people who are involved in the process are not being violated. With over 160 million people employed worldwide, the fashion industry is known for long hours in terrible conditions. As a part of your PR, disclose your partner’s and your supply chain. Build a strong and trustworthy reputation for your fashion business by creating a transparent and sustainable business.
Be supportive of the workforce
As event marketer Brian Gefter noted recently, A good way for fashion brands to generate goodwill is to provide support to workers financially and through avenues such as skill-based training or language. By doing so, brands can develop their workers’ prospects in the future. Another example of this is H&M, which provides training and micro-loans for employees who want to start their own business. Such programs are low cost and high-impact. Consumers want to invest in products that give back to the community. Use personalized stories of people who have benefitted from programs run by your brand’s CSR initiatives to get leverage these success stories.
Be environmentally conscious
No matter what industry you’re in, it could be having a negative impact on the environment. The fashion industry, especially, is notorious for its toll on local environments. Clothing companies can somewhat mitigate this impact through different CSR initiatives. Using locally-sourced products, re-using material, using recycled products, using renewable energy, running environment programs in the communities they work in, etc. are just some of the ways the fashion industry minimize the human-ecological impact of their operation.
If people are aware the product that they’re buying is less harmful on the environment than if they were to buy a similar product from a different brand, then it makes them feel like they’re making a difference. Additionally, your brand will be able to build consumer trust and cement positive values into your brand identity.
About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.