What do people want or need?
What is the going price for these items?
How can I produce and sell the most of these items for the lowest price the fastest?
Quality took a hit when affordability became king. While contributing to the near sighted bottom line, the above questions failed to take into mind the holistic impact that some of the solutions would bring. And now, folks are getting more and more weary of cheap product. Today’s consumers have a wider view of what a worthwhile purchase entails. People care about the origin and process of the product and more than ever they are keen to observe the actual quality over the perceived quality.
As a player in the marketplace, here are some questions I might be asking myself:
Am I offering quality product? (you may need to be willing to make your consumers feel the pain of this by decreasing supply in order to fulfill quality standards. This isn’t such a bad thing – my friends recently visited a restaurant that only offers 16 seats a night and books 9 months in advance. The dinner clocks in at $750.)
What are my consumers “voting for” by purchasing my product? In other words, how does the big picture of this product affect the global village? Does it help build wells? Does it encourage sustainable living? Is it Non-GMO, organic, rain forest friendly, exercise promoting? One for one companies made popular by business like Tom’s Shoes have an interesting model that keeps folks outside of the target consumer in mind.
How am I manufacturing and sourcing my product? (consumers are starting to care if the assembly and sourcing of their cell phones was done ethically and responsibly – take fairphone for example)
Do I have a competitive price? (This doesn’t go away, you just may need to be more creative about how you communicate what you are selling and it’s enhanced value… folks will pay more if they are buying a sock that creates a job for another or a toothpaste that gives 1% to rain forests).
Is this movement simply enlightened self interest? Do companies actually care about the sustainability of their processes and the social and environmental impact they have? Either way, the conviction to maintain a serious corporate social responsibility is steadily rising, and consumers are fueling the power.
While NLGS has been recycling since the 80’s, allowing employees time to volunteer, and still print on used paper, our CSR scope is small compared to other seriously committed companies. Subaru gives a great example of a multi-pronged awareness approach by both committing to zero waste and sharing what they’ve learned with other amazing organizations, like the NPS. (Subaru, recognized for having the first automotive assembly plant in America designated as zero landfill, shares its knowledge of zero landfill practices with the National Park Service to reduce landfill waste from the parks. http://www.subaru.com/csr/environment.html)
If the source to shelf questions are not on your horizon and if you don’t have have quality high on the list, be aware. Better yet, rather than motivate yourself by fear of what will happen if you don’t contribute to the thriving of our global community, take what you care about personally (fitness, clean water, public art, education) and see if you can find a creative way to connect your business to your passion, even in some small way.
Is your company giving back? Let us know.