Today, more consumers than ever are demanding that companies become transparent and take a hands-on approach to making the world a better place. They’re looking for what experts call “conscious brands,” companies that embody a higher purpose by having an intentional purpose or embracing social responsibility. Think: Tom’s Shoes or Jessica Alba‘s Honest Company.
According to a report by MWWPR, not only do 90% of consumers say they’re more likely to patronize companies that take a stand on social and public policy matters, 80% say they’ll even pay more for products from such brands.
But you don’t have to be a big name in order to transform your business into a conscious brand. Follow these three steps to make sure that your actions resonate with your ideal customers, helping you multiply your revenue and make a lasting impact.
As people become savvier, trust in marketing is growing more vital each day. It’s not enough to just offer a great product or excellent customer service. Customers want to do business with companies they like, trust and align with. Those brands that sit on the sidelines regarding important issues are coming under greater scrutiny. Meanwhile, those with the guts to take bold but strategically sound stands are being rewarded.
Follow B&J’s lead and include your views and values in your marketing. Share your beliefs, and ask your audience to take part alongside you in supporting the causes you believe in. By intentionally integrating social responsibility as part of your daily business routine, you can ensure you are doing your part in practicing social and environmental responsibility and be seen as a thought leader in your niche.
2. Take action
It’s one thing to talk about the causes you support, but it’s another thing entirely to actually do something about them. People are jaded by outdated marketing techniques, false advertising, and businesses and influencers who don’t walk the walk. While building and running a conscious business requires more intentional decision making and an uncompromising commitment to the mission for good, the reward is the creation of a movement that leads to unparalleled success and impact.
There are countless ways you can become part of the change for good: collect donations, offer scholarships, take part in activism. Use the resources you have – your voice, your business, and your community – to take action. When you weave these actions into your company culture, and it’s embodied by employees and customers alike, you create a movement. By embracing ethical business practices while creating transparency and accountability, and providing immense value, your brand will rise up over the competition.
3. Cultivate partnerships based on values
Co-branding with another company is an effective way to double the awareness around an issue, increase the impact of an effort and, ultimately, expand the visibility of both organizations. Who you partner with has a direct impact on your reputation, your brand and your potential customer’s perception of your business.
As reported in a recent Hubspot post by Sophia Bernazzani, “In 2015, Target partnered with UNICEF on a campaign called Kid Power, which committed Target to one of UNICEF’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). The retailer sold kid-friendly fitness trackers encouraging them to complete various fitness activities, which ultimately helped deliver food packets to underprivileged children around the world.”
To ensure that you’re making smart partnering decisions, choose partnerships that align with your values. If you have not yet determined your brand values, make it a top priority. The best way to do this is to follow my 3S Method. First: Source. Do a Google search of “brand value words.” Choose as many words as possible that you resonate with and feel are important. I like to put them on index cards (or you could use digital Kanban boards) to make step two easier. Second: Sort. Group the index cards with similar words. For instance, honesty, integrity, and truth would go in the same pile. Finally: Select. Choose your final words from the groups by what you feel best represents your deepest values.
Now, use these brand values as your North Star. Refer to them any time you are making decisions, such as who to partner with, who to hire, which clients to work with, and more. Doing so is sure to help you stand out amongst the noise online and attract raving fans with similar values.
As history can attest, well-meaning government and nonprofits aren’t enough on their own to fix every societal issue. Even with more time, it’s unlikely they’ll reveal themselves to be the silver bullets that single-handedly eradicate poverty, inequality, and infuse the workplace with jobs that make workers feel dignified and purposeful.
For that caliber of change, however, there are companies willing to bet on a different conceptualization of “good business.” Perhaps most impressive of this group are B Corps – businesses that volunteer to be graded by the nonprofit B Lab each year to ensure they’re meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Companies that are awarded B Corp status have committed to using their business to work toward a more inclusive and sustainable economy. The businesses strive to reduce inequality, lower poverty levels, and create a healthier environment, stronger communities, and purposeful jobs.
They leverage their resources to pay into a better world, creating a definition of success that includes commonwealth and positive impact as necessary aspects of sustainable consumerism. It’s not charity, it’s better business, and the point is to move the needle on “better practices” further from extra credit and closer to universal compliance.
We rounded up 15 companies we love to shop from that also happen to be certified B Corps, helping drive a global movement that uses business as a force for good.
Prose is a trailblazer for custom haircare and is one of the most personalized beauty brands on the market.
Launched in 2017 and added to the B Corp list in 2019, Prose is focused on powering complete customized hair care products that cater to the specific needs and goals of each individual’s hair and scalp.
As reported by Insider Reviews senior reporter Connie Chen, who tested the line, Prose founders used their experiences in marketing, digital strategy, and R&D roles at consumer product companies like Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal to help define Prose’s data-driven and ingredient-centric business model.
Adopting this technology-driven approach with an apothecary-style concept, Prose products find success in their made-to-order products that offer the highest quality of clean, sustainably sourced ingredients.
Allbirds are often referred to as the “world’s most comfortable shoes” and we’d be inclined to agree. We also love that each collection seems to get even better at optimizing natural materials — without raising prices or diminishing quality.
Allbirds’ classic sneakers and loungers are made from moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating, odor-resistant merino wool that is ZQ-certified (meaning it meets stringent standards for sustainable farming and animal welfare) and uses 60% less energy than synthetics. Their second collection was comprised of sneakers and skippers made from cooling, eco-friendly eucalyptus pulp. Both collections are ultra-comfortable, low-maintenance, made from sustainable materials, and cost $95 for a pair.
You can read more on how Patagonia walks the walk here, but a few of our favorite examples include being the first California company to sign up for B certification in 2012, imposing an earth tax on itself, and giving 100% (yes, 100%) of their profits from Black Friday in the past directly to grassroots nonprofits working to protect air, water, and soil quality for future generations. Since 1985, the company has donated over $89 million to environmental work.
It also bucks corporate trends by not being afraid to get political. It’s led boycotts (Outdoor Retailer trade show, 2017) and sued the United States government and President Donald Trump after the administration proposed reducing two national monuments by up to 85%.
Recently, the company revised its mission statement from “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” to the simpler, more urgent “we’re in business to save our home planet.”
Patagonia was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019, the list that ranks the top 10% of all B Corps.
Cotopaxi is an outdoors brand with social purpose built into its DNA. Its gear is superior (I count their 35L and 42L travel pack as among my all-time best finds). But, somehow, it’s almost more exciting to talk about the work the company is doing outside of its retail line.
From its inception, Cotopaxi has been founded upon the idea that the interests of profit and people could not only coexist, but should and already do enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.
The B Corp values can be found at all levels of operation. Employees spend 10% of their work time in their local communities, adventuring outdoors, or doing service. The company donates 2% of its yearly revenue to ending poverty by funding local organizations working on sustainable solutions. Cotopaxi also puts out a Repurposed Collection of limited-edition gear made out of scraps.
The company has also created a skills-based volunteering initiative that leverages the time and talent of employees to respond to community needs, such as a card-writing program that provides a paid ‘first job’ for refugees in Salt Lake City. The program provides youth with professional development, work experience, a competitive wage, and the opportunity to practice their English language skills. This is one company whose “Do Good” products actually feel authentic.
Cotopaxi was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Leesa is best-known for being one of the forerunners in the increasingly crowded direct-to-consumer mattress space. Its Leesa Mattress has 20,000+ five-star reviews, and two of the company’s mattresses (Leesa and Hybrid) have been named best-in-category by both Business Insider and The Wirecutter. We’re still working on a review of its latest mattress, the luxury Legend mattress, but testing is going well so far.
The company also has a strong social impact: giving one mattress for every ten sold and devoting resources to national and local organizations. Despite the startup’s marked accomplishments in a crowded space, Leesa’s Head of Social Impact, Jen-Ai Notman, told Business Insider the social mission would be likely to still rank as the overwhelming incentive for working at the company.
Overall, Leesa has donated more than 39,000 mattresses to those in need and makes a point to provide the opportunity for employees to feel invested in their own backyards with local volunteer opportunities.
Leesa was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Frank And Oak is a Canadian apparel company dedicated to making modern, high-quality essentials with sustainable materials and production methods.
The company has winter boots made from coffee waste, recycled rubber, and plant-dyed leather, as well as circular denim made from post-consumer waste in a way that uses 79% less energy, 50% fewer chemicals, and 95% less water than the standard.
About 50% of the retailer’s products are made with minimal-impact processes and materials. Its shipping boxes are 100% recycled and recyclable, and its bags are biodegradable. What’s more, its Canadian stores were built with recycled materials.
It also keeps a lean supply of products on hand to avoid surplus, which makes nearly every collection limited-edition.
Bombas is another company that was founded with the primary directive of giving back to the community, with its actual product idea coming second. But its product, Bombas socks, is still the best pair of socks we’ve ever tried — regardless of order.
Founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg told Business Insider the now cult-favorite company began as a way to address the fact that homeless shelters have a great shortage of sock donations. And after noticing that consumers didn’t have a great option between high-end niche technical socks and a 6-pack at Target, Heath and Goldberg spent two years obsessively re-inventing the wheel to come up with their pair of Bombas socks: adding blister tabs, a reinforced footbed, targeted areas of tension, “stay-up technology,” and contoured seaming like a Y-stitched heel to minimize bunching, sliding, and sticking.
And the socks and clothes Bombas does donate have been designed in conjunction with their giving partners to cater specifically to the needs of its recipients, who may not have access to the luxury of putting on clean clothes every day. For instance, the socks come in darker colors to avoid visible wear and tear, added anti-microbial treatment to prevent odor or bacteria if they can’t be washed as frequently, and reinforced seams for durability.
Beautycounter, a skincare and makeup brand, has become synonymous with the clean beauty movement. Since its founding in 2013, the company has had what it calls The Never List — a laundry list of 1,800 questionable or harmful chemicals that are never used in its products, including the 1,400 banned or restricted by the EU. (The US bans just 30.)
It’s also involved in advocacy for better, healthier legal regulation in the US and Canada.
Tentree is an outdoor company that essentially thinks of itself as a forestry program that ended up selling clothes. For every product you buy, the company plants 10 trees through thoughtful programs that not only reforest the earth but also help rebuild communities around sustainable local economies.
Since its inception, Tentree has planted over 53 million new trees on earth. By 2030, the company’s goal is 1 billion.
The brand’s clothes mostly consist of comfy, unassuming sweatshirts, shirts, leggings, and other basic apparel sold at a reasonable price. They’ve also fostered a lively online community, and lay claim to the tenth most-liked Instagram post of all time.
United by Blue, an outdoor apparel and accessories brand, was founded first and foremost to preserve and protect the places in which explorers go to play. That means its top-notch gear comes hand-in-hand with conservation work. The company utilizes inventive, sustainable materials and removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every product sold, with over 3 million pounds of trash removed thus far. You can even join them in a cleanup.
Ethique is helping tackle plastic waste by developing solid bars made for beauty, body, and hair care needs.
Founded by a female biologist, the company formulates 30+ solid “beauty bars” for everything from shampoos to conditioners, moisturizers, self-tanners, and body washes, and they work well.
Every bar is vegan, sustainably sourced, naturally-derived, and comes in biodegradable packaging. They also last 2-5 times longer than bottled options since they’re so concentrated (since about 95% of bottled conditioner is water), meaning you save money and contribute a smaller carbon footprint since you’re ordering less frequently. To date, the company has prevented more than 9 million plastic bottles from being made and disposed of.
Ethique (French for “ethical”) is certified climate-neutral, cruelty-free, and donates 20% of profit (whichever is highest) to charity.
In 2015, the company was recognized as New Zealand’s most sustainable business with ‘the Best in B’ award. In its early stages, the company also attracted the highest number of female investors in PledgeMe history. (PledgeMe is New Zealand’s crowdfunding platform.)
San Francisco-based Athleta makes relatively affordable but premium performance clothing designed by women athletes, and it focuses most of its philanthropy on empowering girls and women.
Through the Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. program and Fair Trade U.S.A., the label supports programs impacting the lives of the majority-female workers that create its apparel and has run empowerment-focused campaigns such as “Power of She” in the past. The company also offers thousands of free fitness and wellness events each year, supporting an estimated 10,000 hours of employee volunteering in the community in 2017.
UncommonGoods is a marketplace of both creative craft-esque inventions like chocolate-coated waffle shots that make great gifts. The site feels like a clean, navigable Etsy with fewer products and a more distinct thesis: utilitarian, but “unique.”
UncommonGoods works with its artists to use sustainable or recycled materials when possible, chooses environmentally friendlier packing materials, and prints its catalog on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and recycled paper. They also founded “Better to Give,” which allows customers to choose a non-profit partner for the company to donate $1 to with every order.
For UncommonGoods, the “business for good” model is working, with the company growing steadily from 5 employees to over 200 year-round. As part of their approach to business, their lowest-paid hourly seasonal worker makes double the federal minimum wage. They’ve also advocated for higher minimum wage and paid family leave in New York state and others.
The company recently partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and created the Uncommon Scholars program, which creates internship and scholarship opportunities for students enrolled at historically Black colleges and universities.
Uncommon Goods was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
NYC-based MPOWERD makes affordable, innovative products that help make clean energy accessible. Its best-known product is the Luci, an inflatable solar light. Particularly well-loved for its versatile applications for campers and hikers, MPOWERD is an increasingly recognizable name in the outdoors genre.
MPOWERD uses its lucrative sales in the developed world markets to power a tangible impact in the developing world— namely, the three billion people who live without access to electricity.
Its big sales drive down costs, and those savings are passed on to MPOWERD’s clients in developing economies: “This allows anyone, no matter their circumstances, to own (or sell) our lights at prices they can actually afford.”
Through this process and a myriad of others, the company delivers affordable, life-changing solar lights to off-the-grid communities around the world. It has over 700 strategic non-profit partnerships worldwide, emergency relief sales, and a customer-driven Give Luci program that encourages shoppers to purchase units for their global nonprofit partners.
Eileen Fisher has been a B-Corp since 2015 and has incorporated conscious practices into most of its supply chain — including “green initiatives” at its headquarters, stores, and distribution centers, along with volunteer work. The company has been involved in some meaningful policy engagement in the past, and it has designed a grant program that supports women involved in environmental justice.
Eileen Fisher was also named to the B Lab list of Best For The World in 2019.
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Patagonia routinely offers discounts on past-season styles in the Web Specials section of their website.
Today is the final day to find discounts on pretty much every category, including select masculine and feminine clothing, kid’s apparel, backpacks, and outdoor accessories.
Below, we put together a list of our favorite discounted clothing and gear to give you an idea of what’s on sale.
Patagonia is one of the most recognizable outdoor brands in the world, and for good reason. Its huge catalog of well-made, eco-friendly clothing and gear has made it a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and environmentally-conscious shoppers.
To make way for new styles, Patagonia routinely discounts older styles and adds them to the Web Specials section. Today is the final day of Patagonia’s huge sale with markdowns of up to 40% off on select clothing in masculine and feminine styles, as well as for children and outdoor gear including backpacks, books, bottles, and more.