You’re running, it’s exhilarating, this is your time, for your mind to be completely at peace. Hang on, is that an unethically sourced shirt you’re wearing? What do you mean it’s not made from bamboo or pineapple enzymes? A portion of the money isn’t given to charity? Don’t you feel ashamed?! Suddenly your mind is clouded with guilt and your daily run isn’t so satisfying.

Ethical branding is taking the marketing world by storm and for a good reason, it works.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the ethics behind the products they buy. On the Trust Barometer, ethics and integrity rank in the top 16 categories that influence the public’s trust in a brand. In fact, a quarter of UK consumers said they would buy ethical products even if it cost them more.

This method of branding seems to be incredibly popular in the outdoors gear industry. It makes sense, if you love being active outside it’s only natural you would care about the surrounding environment. So it’s no surprise consumers like to associate with brands that share the same ethical beliefs as them.

There’s now even a website dedicated to ethical consumerism which has a category for everything, including waterproof jackets. On top of that, a job title which wouldn’t have existed ten years ago has been created: ‘Ethical Brand Strategist’. Clearly ethical branding is a movement that’s continuing to grow in the outdoor wear market.

So perhaps you’re wondering, is ethical branding just about making people feel better about over consuming? Sure, people do get some kind of satisfaction from buying an ethical product but there’s more to it. It’s about creative storytelling and building a connection with your audience.

Just because consumers want their brands to be ethical doesn’t mean they want to be constantly reminded about it. Patagonia is a great example of a brand doing ethical branding right. Patagonia’s mission is to create high quality products that cause no harm to the environment. They were one of the first brands to get involved with environmental ethics in the outdoor fashion industry. They were also one of the first to start using recycled and environmentally friendly materials.

Patagonia even created a short film to show the positive impact fair trade factories have around the world. The brand does a fantastic job of building a relationship with their customers by making them feel part of an ethical movement. When you purchase a Patagonia product you don’t get a pang of guilt with your new jacket.

Ethical branding has two sides, the first is the environmental ethics behind the product in relation to how it’s produced and consumed. The second is the social factors surrounding the brand along with the emotional reward the customer gets from buying the ethically branded product.

It’s hard to know whether the increase in ethical branding is due to law and government regulation but no matter the reason, an ethical brand needs to build a real emotional connection with their audience. Catching the consumer’s attention in a world saturated with brand messaging requires creativity, targeting and carefully considered campaigns designed to drive audience engagement.That’s what audience engagement is all about and it’s what we do here at To The End.

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