By Rod Davis, CEO of BBB serving Southeast Florida and the Caribbean
Each of us knows a business in our community that has contributed to local programs, developed initiatives in response to disasters to people or neighborhoods, and made a positive impact on the lives of their customers. Research is finding that all consumers, and especially those in the Generation Z or Millennial age groups, want to find and support socially conscious businesses. According to Cone, 89% of consumers are likely to switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality.
In response to this new socially conscious capitalism movement, organizations and businesses are reshaping economies and reinvigorating communities. By choosing a higher purpose, businesses can make significant social and/or environmental impacts in their communities. For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been recognizing businesses that demonstrate integrity and performance and promote the value of their products and services truthfully. As an example, when a business makes a claim to deliver the lowest price or the fastest service, BBB requires documentation from a reputable study to substantiate advertised superiority claims. If a business is not able to document a claim, they must either remove the claim or their BBB report will be marked to indicate the advertising is not substantiated and consumers can take that information into account before making a purchase. This incentive to be honest and substantiate claims with valid data/studies is effective since consumers in southeast Florida checked 20,000 BBB reports on local businesses each day in 2020.
Since the new social impact oriented businesses are making claims about their purpose driven goals, the industry and consumers will benefit from a system that validates claims and helps consumers find and support businesses aligned with causes important to the individual consumer. To address this growing new sector of the marketplace, BBB Institute partnered with local BBBs to launch the BBB4Good initiative to support and elevate purpose-driven businesses. BBB4Good works to:
- Empower consumers to identify purpose-driven businesses that substantiate their social impact claims,
- Spotlight, recognize, and support organizations that integrate social impact into their business plans, and
- Expand the growth of this powerful new marketplace sector via new research and partnerships with like-minded organizations that are providing critical support to purpose-driven businesses.
How will BBB4Good work? Businesses or organizations with a social impact goal will be able to engage BBB4Good to review and validate the claims so that consumers will not be led by false claims to support a business failing to deliver on its social impact commitment. This program will be phased in over the coming months, but we already have an example of a local business with a social impact cause.
4Ocean is a local business with an environmental goal to clean our oceans and waterways. Since 4Ocean’s initial goal was to pull a pound of trash from our oceans and waterways for every bracelet sold, BBB met with the 4Ocean staff to receive information about their business and develop a way to monitor compliance with the advertised social impact goal integrated into their commitment to customers. BBB put into place a system to receive data about the number of bracelets sold and reports from the weigh stations used by 4Ocean to collect data on the poundage pulled from waterways. BBB was able to validate the claim with objective data and continues to monitor claims so that consumers supporting 4Ocean can have confidence their dollars are being used to support the claim used to solicit their business/support.
BBB4Good will be integrated into the www.BBB.org/SEFL website in the months ahead. To learn more about BBB4Good, whether you are a consumer or social impact business/organization, visit www.BBBMarketplaceTrust.org/Story/42427725/BBB4Good-Prototype. Businesses have always played a key role in our local communities and BBB4Good will provide a spotlight on our local businesses making a clear and documented impact.