How businesses engage with their customers at every point of the buying journey determines the customer experience. Purpose-led customer experience gives ethical brands the chance to attract, acquire, retain and grow their customer base by leading with environmentally driven ambitions and changing the way we consume.

It’s a responsibility that many brands are taking seriously and with an environment and customer-centric approach, they have the potential to make positive change and provide extremely pleasant and rewarding customer journeys along the way. With the help of data and data maturity analysis, these ethical brands could be even more powerful, driving memorable experiences and ultimately more profit.

There is an ever-growing demand for this. Wonderful new brands are emerging all the time to challenge the established players of Patagonia and Veja. Becoming Certified B Corps is an ambition of many of these new and brands, Yard included, and together, they’re paving the way for a brighter future.

Purpose-led customer experience helps put ethical brands at a competitive advantage. Customers are looking for brands that they can trust, that have empathy, that take their social responsibility seriously, that have as minimal impact on the environment as possible and that don’t put profit above all else. Ethical brands can act on this, to deliver emotional connections at all stages of the customer journey, to turn individual interactions into long-term and highly valuable and rewarding relationships.

Employee engagement is a key driver in successful CX and it’s also possible that ethical brands have a more engaged and happier workforce and in turn, provide a better, more natural customer experience.

One of the questions these brands should be asking themselves daily is: What do ethical consumers want? How a company interacts with customers and what they do behind the scenes is vital to delivering a seamless customer experience but for ethical brands, what they sell, the product and where it has come from is as important. They have a double challenge but one well worth embracing.  

Transparency, honesty, a sustainable supply chain, environmental impact, workers’ rights, the ability to repair much-loved items and a quality product that is durable, fashionable and well-made is the minimal of requirements for many consumers now. Delivering on those expectations and providing a customer experience that is memorable and above all, genuine will result in long-term, valuable relationships.

The enjoyable thing about interacting with an ethically orientated brand is their pride and the knowledge of the products they either manufacture or sell. These brands can tell you about where the materials come from, where they are being manufactured and probably the name of the person who is crafting your garments.

Take Meander, a brand I’ve recently had the pleasure of shopping with and will continue to do so, and Dick’s, both based in Edinburgh. A visit to their shops is a wonderful customer experience. They know the brands they stock inside out, and they love to share them with you. It’s a learning experience every time you go in. Every brand, every item they sell has a story and they’re proud to share it.

Meander, George Street, Edinburgh
Meander, George Street, Edinburgh

That knowledge of the brand and not only knowledge, but the enthusiasm that pours out at different stages of the customer journey, from instore to online is a key element in making their business successful. It sells. No more stack them high and sell them cheap – hopefully. Buy less, buy better, buy off people who give a shit. Buy off local independent stores that don’t have the capital to challenge the big brands digitally, but they’ve got the personality and the product to challenge them instore with a customer experience that big brands can’t deliver.

HOW CAN ETHICAL BRANDS STAY ON TOP OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

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 Observe the changing world around us, see the world as their customers do, engage with their customers regularly and with the wider market by talking to them, listening to them and using the data available to make informed decisions, and to act on them. Using data to change and improve the customer journey can help elevate ethical brands further.

Personalisation is a vital tool in prolonging the life journey of items. After purchase, Nudie Jeans could utilise their data to tell me I’m about to wear through the Lean Dean’s I bought last year. They could get back in touch to encourage me to repair them instore or through their DIY organic repair kit. It’s another touchpoint, another enjoyable and rewarding interaction with a great brand. I feel good about repairing rather than constantly buying poor quality fast fashion items. Nudie Jeans don’t do this with me, but they should. They will have the data and if they don’t, they can get that data. How long do their jeans last before they start to wear? I know it will vary from person to person, how they use them, how often they use them, the type of denim, weight of denim etc. but it’s possible. They could know if they have the data, how frequently I re-purchase items and before I do, they could encourage me to repair, not buy a new. That’s real, data-driven, ethical consumerism.

Our household is a huge fan of Treen. We regularly interact with the brand, many times they know, many times they don’t. Typical behaviour involves visiting the site, signing up to the newsletter, regularly reading the newsletter (because it’s great), following them and engaging with them on social, even asking about specific items which they then showcase on their social channels, to save us going into the store, and then purchasing online. When items arrive it’s the first physical touchpoint. It’s well wrapped, in beautiful packaging and there’s a handwritten note, thanking you for your custom and hoping you like your item. That is as good a customer experience you’ll find. It’s simple but well-executed with personal touches along the way. You don’t need expensive technology to deliver a personal, human-led experience. When you do that, you’ve got a customer for life.

Barry Begg