Author: Bonnie Harris

Too many brands ays have a sole focus on attracting new clients to their business. They completely overlook the customer base they already have. Remember it actually costs a lot more money to attract new clients to the business that it does to achieve repeat business. Most successful companies focus on customer retention as a major stake in their marketing efforts. 

If you want to force a change in a company’s methods of production you don’t need to organize a protest, or even march in one.  In a blog earlier this year Edelman’s Global Strategy Director David Armano described the impact of what he called “protests of the purse.” Consumer activism, Armano argues, needs to be considered as part of the customer funnel. Your demand for a product, especially when paired with the activism of like-minded people, can drive change faster than you’d expect. In competitive industries companies are always in fear of losing customers to a more consumer-friendly rival. When looking to make a purchase, don’t shy away from your values. Make companies adapt their product to you. The last few years have seen many extraordinarily tumultuous moments in the world of political and social issues. Topics ranging from animal cruelty, to protecting women and the LGBT community from abuse, to the presidency of Donald Trump, have all spurred an immense wave of activism. In such an activist society, it has never been easier to mold a company’s practices to match your convictions. The first step to achieving these goals is to realize that you have influence over even the largest companies, not the other way around. As social movements gain steam, they are often effective at forcing significant changes. The consequences of activism reach well beyond politics. Just search #boycott on Twitter and see what has sparked indignation today. These people are engineering social change from their own couches, just by vocalizing their future demand habits. [pullquote position="right"]When activism becomes powerful enough to shift consumer behavior on a large scale, brands and even entire industries can be expected to evolve to meet the expectations of their customers. [/pullquote]Demand becomes less a function of price, and more a function of the perceived social cost or benefit of the product. Consider cosmetic products, such as shampoo. Animal testing, a practice that many believe is unnecessarily cruel, is prevalent in the industry. A study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) found that 61% of Americans believe a ban should be enacted against animal testing, up from just 38% in 2003. Fifty-eight percent would not buy a product from a company that engages in such methods. More than four in five expect that companies that identify as “green” or “natural” will not engage in animal testing in any form. The backlash against the testing process in Europe was strong enough for the European Union to ban animal testing entirely. Climate change has brought about a similar trend. Thirty-one percent of consumers have vocalized that they would reward a company that was committed to responsible energy practices by patronizing them. Two thirds of that subset would also punish companies that were prominent contributors to global warming. Supermarkets and food suppliers now work hard to showcase their climate-consciousness. Words like “sustainable,” “organic” and “eco-friendly” are popular terms for portraying food as socially beneficial. As climate change becomes a more pressing issue, we will see more farmers and food suppliers go green. Activists may not think that their consumption habits have much of an effect on a company’s decisions. Research from Brayden King, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School, reports otherwise. King, along with others, feels that boycotts and consumer activism are actually transforming entire industries.