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Why brands need to pick a side

Historically speaking, most brands would avoid politics under the presumption that supporting a cause was bad for business. It was, and still is for some brands, considered best practice to steer clear of social and environmental issues, focus on increasing sales and avoid choosing sides AT ALL COSTS.

But things are changing.

Since the 1980s, when companies began considering the impact of their practices thanks to the corporate social responsibility movement, there was a shift in how brands advocated for the ethics of their products and processes. Now, with access to the internet and a constant feed of new information funnelling through social media, it is no surprise that organisations struggle to stay neutral. So, why not?

Millennials and Gen Z are perfect examples of a demographic where the vast majority demand that brands engage in social responsibility. With the wave of long-overdue protests and conversations surrounding #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, consumers have found that brands that stay silent are losing out to brands that promote transparency, accountability and action. Sitting on the fence or posting the odd hashtag in solidarity, without any movement towards change, are no longer accepted or tolerated by consumers.

With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, consumers are engaged with brands more than ever. It's not enough to say that you care for the environment when the packaging of most products are still manufactured, delivered, wrapped and shipped in plastic. It's not enough to promote equality when men continually out-earn women in the same position, and people of colour are still discriminated against (casual racism is still racism). It's not enough for a brand to post an 'acknowledgement of country' when no action is taken to improve the lives and treatment of Aboriginal people.

It is not enough to talk about change. Brands need to behave, internally and externally in ways that promote the ideals they claim to stand for. No one is perfect, and consumers don’t expect brands to get it right the first time. It’s about encouraging a sense of community by engaging with social and environmental topics ethically and responsibly. When done right, consumers are not only inspired, but they are also more loyal to the brand based on their shared set of beliefs and values.

This was originally how Salvation Skin started, after years of trying to align with a skincare brand that wasn’t just about money or the latest trend. It was about developing a brand that is as much about skincare as it is about supporting causes that are important to our consumers. From achieving a carbon-neutral workforce, planting a tree for every product purchased and contributing ongoing funds towards The Healing Foundation, Salvation Skin is designed to encourage a better standard of living and social acceptance within our community. We want to be better, but for all the right reasons.

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