Many external forces impact customer experience. Modern customers expect brands to be socially responsible and aware of the issues facing our society and environment. This week, we saw stories on a variety of hot-button issues that can make or break companies. In order to create a brand that customers trust and feel comfortable supporting, brands often need to make difficult decisions that are culturally relevant.
Nike’s Maternity Policy Goes Against Its Own Advertising
Nike is known for its inspirational ad campaigns that encourage athletes to be their best. Recently, the company has created viral campaigns that celebrate female athletes at all stages of their journeys, including motherhood. But female athletes that are sponsored by Nike say the company doesn’t stand by its advertising promises in real life. Olympian Alysia Montano published an opinion piece in The New York Times sharing her experience getting pregnant at the peak of her career. Nike threatened to stop paying her during her pregnancy, and the U.S. Olympic Committee said it would cancel her health insurance if she couldn’t stay in peak condition. Montano switched sponsors and went on to win two national championships within a year of having her first child, showing that female athletes really are all that Nike commercials claim they are—even if the company doesn’t support them internally.
Women’s issues are a huge concern for many customers. As a mother myself, I connect with this story on so many levels. From a customer experience perspective, Nike needs to stand by its ad campaigns in real life. Stories like Montano’s discredit the company and destroy customers’ trust. For companies to develop strong reputations, they need to be authentic and transparent and treat their employees (and sponsored athletes) in a way that backs up their mission and advertising claims.
Social Media Impacts Saving, And Americans Still Aren’t Very Good At It
The way people spend and save money is changing, and a lot of that is due to social media. A new survey from Charles Schwab on modern wealth found that consumers pay more attention to how their friends spend their money than how they save it. Social media has had a mostly negative impact on saving, with 60% of people wondering how their friends afford the experiences and purchases they share online. The survey also revealed that Gen Z-ers and millennials are more likely to spend on experiences they saw on social media and are the most likely groups to spend more than they can afford to do stuff with their friends. Even with all this, Americans still consider themselves good savers, but the results show they aren’t. Nearly 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and only 28% have a written financial plan.
Brands need to be aware of how consumers spend and save their money. Encouraging people to constantly buy things can backfire when people don’t have enough money to live. This survey also shows the incredible power of social media and how easily consumers can be influenced by their friends, even if what they see posted isn’t the whole story. Companies should help younger consumers understand the importance of savings and thinking long term.
Fashion Brands Turning Away From Cashmere With Environmental Issues
What used to be considered the epitome of luxury fashion could soon be replaced. Cashmere has been connected to ecological destruction around the world, which has caused fashion labels like H&M, Gucci and Patagonia to re-consider how they use the popular material. Cashmere comes from cashmere goats, the vast majority of which live in China and Mongolia. The number of herds has grown in recent years to meet the demand for cashmere, but the growing herds have destroyed 60% of Mongolia’s fragile grasslands. Many retailers are pledging to limit or stop their use of cashmere until a more sustainable farming method is found.
Customers expect brands to take a stand, and environmental and sustainability issues are major concerns for modern customers. The fashion industry coming together shows that unsustainable cashmere farming is a big issue. Brands need to focus on sustainable supply chains not only for the good of their customers, but also for the good of the environment.
Social responsibility is a crucial aspect of customer experience. Brands need to take a stand and be authentic and transparent.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of two books, “The Customer Of The Future” and “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.