The days when consumers would support brands without knowing anything about them are over. The internet has made it easier than ever to learn about the ethics and practices of companies which consumers support. Companies with track records of ethical missteps or questionable policies can’t hide those blunders anymore. Instead, they bear the brunt of bad social media buzz, which can have a very real impact on their stock prices and overall reputations.
In 2014, American Apparel founder and CEO, Dov Charney, was ousted over a series of misconduct allegations. Charney has been sued by multiple former employees for sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct. His behavior—and his ongoing legal battle with American Apparel—has been blamed for tarnishing the company’s legacy as a fashion business that emphasized a “Made in the USA” mission. Charney’s oust caused a rapid drop in American Apparel’s stock prices. While American Apparel’s woes have largely been linked to these issues of misconduct, there is another major area in which consumers’ brand expectations are growing: sustainability.
Data shows that modern consumers want to support sustainable companies. According to an international Unilever survey, one third of all consumers prefer