Marketing Thought

The Marketing Of Better Business

How is the marketing of better business going?

The Marketing Of Better Business

In his book, Better Business, Christopher Marquis makes a fascinating claim.

The B Corp movement is the most important social movement you’ve never hear of.

Marquis, 2020, preface

Assuming this is true it is both exciting and a bit of a concern. The concern is obvious. If the B Corp movement is so important why don’t people know about it? The opportunity is exciting though. B Corp claim to be a better way of doing business. If more knew about it, this could help create better business and through that a better world.

Consumers And Better Business

The B Corp movement seems to have done a good job appealing to business people. Take-up has been notable. There have been a few back and forths, but everyone knows companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Seventh Generation. There is even B Work — a B Corp job board —

Consumers can (often with justification) be a bit cynical about business claims to be better. As such the B Corp movement has a scoring system. Businesses have to hit a certain score. The required score is 80 – not sure why they picked that number — to be certified as a B Corp by B Labs. (That is the organization doing the certification). It is possible to get to 80 a variety of different ways. This means that a firm doesn’t need to be perfect at everything. It is therefore a bit more realistic than if the goals were perfection. Yet, being a B Corp means the firm does need to commit to, and importantly, achieve beneficial ends for stakeholders beyond shareholders. You get points for treating employees well and not damaging the environment.

B Corp Certification

Once certified the company can use the B Corp logo on its products. As with all professional marketers, they have a style sheet that tells you what can be done with the logo. I confess when I first was working at the Labour Party I didn’t get this. We had a lot of old logos in use – lots of off-brand red roses and even the occasional red flag. (For those of you who know the history these were red flags both literally and figuratively).

To be successful it is critically important that consumers come to associate the logo with something. A weakness of the B Corp movement at the moment is generally consumers don’t associate it with much at all. This creates a massive opportunity to address the marketing of better business. The goal is that consumers demand firms treat all stakeholders well.

Firms can insist that they are only there to benefit their shareholders. Okay, I guess. Still, such firms had better be really good at what they do. Why would a consumer give their money to such a self-centered firm if they can find one with good enough products that is better for all its stakeholders?

Marketing For A Better Future

Can the B Corp brand gain enough traction to become mainstream? This is a concern that the B Corp movement is currently struggling with — a significant effort must to made to increase branding and consumer awareness.

Marquis, 2020, page 115

There is a great opportunity for the marketing of better business. Is the firm you are buying from doing well by their stakeholders? A shortcut to knowing this is seeing a B Corp logo.

For more on politics, business and society see here, here, and here.

To read about B Corp see here.

Read: Christopher Marquis (2020) Better Business How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism, Yale University Press

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