This is not a question of marketing, but a process of self-awareness and clarity.
For a business, there is nothing more important than defining your core values at the outset. As we at AKOJO MARKET say repeatedly, you can’t solve every problem in the world of retail, or be 100% ethical and sustainable. But the core of your organisation must aspire to be all of these things, before you consider how to make a business profitable (People, Planet, Profit – the “Triple Bottom Line” framework). The first thing you need to do is to articulate a) your core values and b) the particular issues you are working to improve.
CORE VALUES: What does a core value look like? A company’s core values can include 1. Supporting local communities; 2. Minimising harmful environmental practices and 3. Equality within the workforce. These comprise your mission statement, the raison d’être (beyond making money), but they are lofty goals and cannot be standalone.
OBJECTIVES: Each value needs corresponding objectives, that are pegged against hard targets. Objectives can look like this: 1. Stable contracts for local staff and living wage or higher; 2. Reduction of water usage / use of upcycled materials; 3. Hire, pay and promote people of all races and genders equally.
HARD TARGETS: Attaching numbers to these objectives is vital to setting targets. Whilst they have to be realistic, they must be ambitious and be targets you are willing to hold yourself accountable to. For this, consult experts and focus groups. Be prepared to be assessed by an external body.
For people that work for you or you are entering into a partnership with, values needs to be clear and concise, understood and believed in. From the smallest things, such as learning what these values correspond to using relevant anecdotes, to printing signs in local languages that reinforce the message. Publish and circulate more detailed examples and scenarios which will provide context and sound guidance. Check in, often, to see if this is being practised.
Objectives and targets will give your customers and stakeholders something tangible that will make you accountable for the words you communicate and the actions you plan to take. Without accountability, pledges are seen as just that and it will be difficult to communicate any progress or display authenticity and substance. The values your organisation is based on and the objectives and targets you are undertaking need to be open and accessible to customers, suppliers and industry players.
We are at a pivotal time of change where the concept of luxury is being redefined. It is not about price point, but about the meaning behind a product and the positive change that a brand can bring about. For your business to successfully build a loyal audience in the long-term, values need properly defining.