Your customers can be one of your best resources for ideas, as well as barometer of what your market wants.
Image credit: Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net[/caption]
The other week, we talked about how consumers are increasingly demanding transparency from businesses, with a focus on transparency of sustainable and socially responsible actions – often in the form of reporting. In case you missed it, here’s the stat that stands out:
More than half of American consumers say a company’s social reputation influenced their purchasing decision.
If you’re anything like us, your existing clients and your loyal fans are among your most valuable resources. So it makes a lot of sense that when big company Clorox made the decision to acquire Burt’s Bees six years ago, it was a decision made after listening to the wants of their clients.
The evolution of that decision was recently profiled by Kyle Westaway, author of Profit & Purpose, in an article for the Guardian:
- Six years ago, Clorox was approaching its 100th birthday
- The company’s customers were saying that they increasingly cared about health and wellness – not just for their families, but for the environment as well
- That correlated to the a demand for products that are natural, safe, and sustainable
- Clorox needed expertise to help them respond to that demand, so they looked outward, to Burt’s Bees
- With the acquisition, Burt’s Bees increased the size of its R&D budget by 50%, enabling the company to create more innovative products. This was also helped out by access to Clorox’s own technology and expertise
- Burt’s Bees has helped Clorox make sustainable improvements to 35% of its product portfolio over the past years
- Since the, Burt’s Bees’ revenues have grown at a double-digit pace every year except for 2009
- And Clorox’s sustainability efforts have translated into approximately $15m in annual cost savings
Not too shabby. This is a great example of a company listening to the wants and demands of its customers, and acting on a socially responsible strategy that made sense for their particular business. This decision also reflects some forward-thinking within the company, a mindset echoed throughout many American companies over the past several years.
Listening to more customers, and looking to the future
At last year’s Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, Chief executives of some of the world’s largest companies warned that businesses will only continue to grow if their operations continue to become more and more sustainable.
And finally, when Google announced its plan to invest billions into clean energy projects, they cited the bottomline:
“While fossil-based prices are on a cost curve that goes up, renewable prices are on this march downward.” – Rick Needham, director of energy and sustainability at Google
All of these businesses cited a new strategy of looking farther and farther into the future. Even if you aren’t a global company – even if you’re just starting out, a regional company, or a small family business – these are two strategies you can adopt easily: listen to your customers’ wants and plan for the future.
Does that include a shift to clean energy? That’s up to you.