Exploiting Social Justice is Not a Marketing Strategy

14 Nov 2019

In the wake of the “me too” movement, brands are facing a backlash for “woke-washing” – a term coined to refer to brands adopting issues of social justice as a marketing strategy without incorporating the same values and beliefs within the organisation.

Consumers are losing trust in brands they bought into under the mistaken belief that they were socially conscious and that the parent company is equally invested, when, in fact, this is not the case. This could inhibit sustainable development in the future.

Numerous brands from M&S to Gillette have attracted scrutiny in recent months over their campaigns. Brands need to actively avoid “pink-washing” their campaigns – jumping on the bandwagon without showing consistent support won’t go down well with LGBT consumers.

“LGBT+ people don’t need their own sandwich, what they really need is more education and support in schools, and more donations to charities,” says Leah Ryz, a freelance consultant who lives with her wife and child in Sussex, in an interview with HuffPost UK.

It’s easy to see why brands are tempted to appeal to LGBT audiences and appear inclusive. GlobalData’s 2018 survey found that 43% of global consumers are often/always influenced by how socially-responsible a product is when deciding which food products to purchase.

The message from consumers is clear: “pink washing” is not OK, jumping on social causes and pretending to care is not OK. If your business wants to reach marginal groups, ensure that your philosophy of care and inclusion is represented throughout the organisation, all year round.