Written by

Candace Gerlach


28th April 2023



There has never been more proof that the consumer’s voice is becoming more powerful and brands must listen to what they are saying or risk losing to their competitors.

Some of the recent stats say… 

43% of global consumers want to buy more from organisations that benefit society (EY).

82% of shoppers want a brand’s values to align with their own (Harris Poll).

64% of consumers prefer to buy from companies with a reputation for purpose as well as profit (Havas Media Group).

71% of consumers tire of empty promises, spurring ‘age of cynicism’ (Havas Media Group).

94% of consumers say they are more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency (Label Insight). 

Over the last few years, brands have made continued efforts to align themselves with customers’ needs and reverse the rise in lack of trust. 

In doing so, you’ve probably heard of…

Ethical marketing: The practice of marketing with a focus on the benefits and impact a brand has on society, and not just a focus on selling a product or service. 

Cause marketing: Marketing that involves working to voice and help a particular cause. This can be seen in collaborations between a business and a charity working together.

Purpose-based marketing: Aligning the business mission with a specific purpose around social issues and values, driven by who the brand is and what they believe in.

Conscious marketing can encompass some or all of these things. But for us, it’s simply about doing the right thing. And by that, we mean asking foundational questions that uncover the story behind your brand, lift the lid on why your business exists, and who for. It’s following a process that starts with human insight and ends with compelling brand communications and customer experiences that touch hearts.

What is conscious marketing?

Conscious marketing is the practice of being consciously aware and taking action to do the right thing by customers, employees and other stakeholders. 

By tapping into human insight, conscious marketing helps brands make informed decisions about the way that they communicate their offer and connect with people’s values. 

It’s less about the product or service and more about the impact it can have on people and society as a whole. 

In practice, conscious marketing involves understanding people’s wants and needs and building robust marketing strategies around research that will position the brand positively with its audience.

Global technology brand Cisco, has been forging the way for quite a few years by espousing ‘human to human marketing’ – a focus on seeing both marketers and customers as humans and talking to each other as such, rather than purely selling their products or services. Over time, this has seen them focus on corporate social responsibility and having a purpose in their marketing activities by understanding what it is their customers truly want from them. 

The principles of conscious marketing.

Being honest

All of your brand communications and claims should be honest – and the message reflective of the experience and quality that customers receive. With customer reviews playing such a big role in the buying journey and influencing decision-making, it’s impossible to pretend you’re doing great things when you’re not. IBM employees are encouraged to have a voice and share their experiences through the IBM social channels. This empowers staff and reinforces their brand values; demonstrating the human side of the brand and that they can be trusted.

Starting with human insight 

Marketing (and business) decisions should stem from human insight and what we know about our customer’s wants and needs. Let’s take Salesforce for example (love ’em or hate ’em) and their acquisition of Slack, the communications and productivity platform. They’ve clearly listened to their customers and understand how Slack can help solve a problem by bringing a connected and better experience to its customers. In their own words: “Together we’ll define the future of enterprise software, creating the digital HQ that enables every organization to deliver customer and employee success from anywhere.”

Treating people fairly

Customers are becoming smarter at understanding when a brand is trying to be something it’s not. Your marketing should reflect the company’s values and culture; from the suppliers you use to the experience customers receive when they interact with you. The same goes for your staff, partners, and all stakeholders – treating everyone fairly and with compassion is KEY. If you’re in a customer-facing business this is even more important because your staff represent your brand.

Having clear values

Yes, people primarily buy something because they are looking for a specific product or service to fulfill a need. But it doesn’t end there. Having values and being clear on your mission means that people buy into a narrative. Something that is 3 dimensional, that makes us feel something. Being clear on your brand values and purpose gives your marketing communications depth and the opportunity to connect with people.

Acting on what you believe in

To behave in a conscious way you must be active in how you drive forward the customer first thinking and not be bystanders. From research and strategic insight to being clear on your narrative; conscious marketing is a 360 approach and something the whole business should get behind.

Being clear on why you exist

Thinking beyond profit isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a small business. Many brands have understood the importance of having a ‘purpose’, a reason for being. There are some great examples of brands that have purpose at their core, such as Allplants, Oatly and The Modern Milkman. But you don’t have to be on a mission to save the planet or have a direct impact on society to be purposeful. If you’re a conscious business putting people first, that’s good enough for us.

Creating a culture you’re proud of

Driven by good leadership, the culture of a business should reflect its values and customer-centric ethos. Forming the culture of a business should be an intentional process, driven by its values – which align with its customer’s values. Processes should be put in place to ensure the business’s purpose is upheld and stakeholder management is a key part of the culture. 

Why is this the way forward for businesses?

With budget cuts, a more difficult economic environment and people raising their voices and voting with their feet – tapping into cultural and human truths can only be a good thing. Listening to what your customers are saying simply means you’ll have better retention, better engagement, more loyalty and trust. 

So – if you’re a small to medium-sized business wanting to have more of an impact in the market and be recognised for the things that really matter – get in touch. It doesn’t have to be a long, expensive process. There’s a framework we use with our clients that gets them clarity in weeks.

To speak to us or book one of our brand clarity workshops, book a call here or email us.