Is ethics important to you?
It’s certainly important to a lot of people, as Tesco found out recently when horse DNA was found in their beef burgers. To their credit, Tesco was quick to act, withdrawing the products from sale and issuing a full-page apology in national newspapers.
Their actions could easily have been a non-issue, and indeed would have been in several other countries: the sale and consumption of horse meat isn’t banned in the UK, but the legal controversy arose over the fact that it wasn’t mentioned in the list of ingredients. Horses are also more of a domestic animal than a delicacy here, which makes tucking into a thoroughbred very much a taboo. When Tesco established ‘Every Little Helps’ as their core value, adding a bit of horse DNA to their food probably wasn’t what the public had in mind.
Tesco is by no means the only brand in the spotlight, as business ethics has been a hot topic in the past 12 months. Companies have been caught exploiting social media by buying their Facebook fans, owners of Livestrong wristbands might be feeling a little uneasy about wearing them despite the good cause, and the Leveson Inquiry seems to have raised as many questions about standard practices in the British media as it has answered. Further afield, the New York Post’s front page picture of a man about to meet his death on the city’s subway tracks has raised serious issues about the integrity of news outlets outside of the UK.
It wouldn’t be surprising to find that consumers have lost confidence in brands that they used to love – and that’s exactly what happened in 2012, with slumps in both sales and brand loyalty in a range of sectors including the travel industry.
The one question on the minds of company heads and marketers across the country is: how do we avoid this? How can our company – and our brands – maintain the trust and confidence of our key audience? The key is to set out firmly and clearly, across all of your communications, what your standpoint is on the big issues – and then to maintain that position throughout your chain of command and in every message that you send out to consumers. By displaying a strong sense of integrity and the genuine willingness to stick to your promises, customers are far more likely to reward you with their loyalty.
We can help you to create the blueprint for your business: the fundamental standpoint that you take in your market and against your competitors. Get in touch today to discuss how we can make your position clear.