As social and environmental awareness continues to grow, consumer behavior is quickly changing. People no longer opt for just the lowest price or the coolest brand; they want to understand what impact their purchase will have on the world that we all live in.
This change in mindset is real and it has prompted a shift in both how companies prioritize and how they choose to present themselves. And the focus on social and environmental sustainability will likely continue to increase as Gen Z focuses their spending on ethically-inspired goods and services. In the near future, every business will need to meet this growing customer demand for transparency and accountability in one way or another.
One way of addressing this is getting certified as a B-Corp. In this article, we will look closer at what that means.
What is B-Corp?
B Corporation, or B-Corp, is a private certification for companies looking to assess and show their social and environmental performance. B-Corp certifications are conferred by B Lab, a global non-profit organization that evaluates and certifies businesses worldwide. To receive and retain the B-Corp certification, companies must receive a minimum score on the B-Lab assessment of their social and environmental impact. Companies are also obliged to integrate the B-Corp commitments into their company’s governing documents.
The B-Corp certification considers the value companies create for the environment, the local (or global) community, and its employees, while also weighing in other criteria such as public transparency and legal accountability. Becoming a B-Corp is associated with an annual fee based on your company’s annual sales. To maintain B-Corp status, recertification is required every third year.
A Triple-Bottom-Line Mindset: Profit, People, and Planet
Unsurprisingly, people are becoming increasingly concerned about the social and environmental impact of their consumption. As a result, that impact has they’re increasingly weighing that impact into their purchasing decisions.
Many consumers have already adopted the so-called triple-bottom-line mindset, taking not only profit but also people and the planet into account when making decisions. And from these new priorities stems a growing demand for trustworthy certifications, both to help consumers navigate their options and to help corporations share their social and environmental efforts with their target group. B-Corp certification helps to accomplish this messaging and more than 4000 companies around the globe have already applied for and received certification.
Related reading: Sustainable Ecommerce: Future Proof your Business
Some Examples of Well-Known B-Corp Brands
Two well-known brands that really embody the triple-bottom-line pathos and the B-Corp mindset are Patagonia and Allbirds, which have both turned sustainability into their core value. When it comes to the B-Corp certification, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard put it like this:
“Benefit Corporation legislation creates the legal framework to enable mission-driven companies like Patagonia to stay mission-driven through succession, capital raises, and even changes in ownership, by institutionalizing the values, culture, processes, and high standards put in place by founding entrepreneurs.”
But not all B-Corp companies are as well-known for their efforts, and sometimes you find the triple-bottom-line in the places you’d least expect. One example is the massive Maker’s Mark Distillery, whose founder coined the brilliant motto: “Make your mark. Leave no trace.”
By being the first large distillery to go B-Corp, Maker’s Mark differentiated their brand through the certification, immediately attracting the more environmentally-aware whisky lovers.
And some sectors struggle even more than others when it comes to gaining the public’s trust. Financial institutions and investment houses, for example, are often lumped into the corporate greed category. Nevertheless, some of these organizations have managed to leverage B-Corp status to their favor. One such example is Abundance Investment, a UK-based Fintech B-Corp, that invests their clients’ money in businesses that create clean energy, build affordable homes, and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
According to Harvard Business Review, Investment firms with B-Corp status and other similar non-conforming identities were attracted more significant investments than their competitors even after short-term success and experienced less penalization for poor performance. Today’s consumers want to use their money as their voice in the market, and they want to feel good about the choices they make.
Helping Consumers See Through Green-Washing and Marketing Hype
Consumers today are, to a large part, savvy digital natives who can smell the scent of PR stunts from miles away. Authenticity is the only currency that holds any real value in today’s marketing landscape. Companies who get caught color-washing are quickly exposed on social media and suffer severe consequences in terms of drops in demand and credibility.
Seeking out B-Corp companies allows consumers to sort through the marketing hype before making purchasing decisions and adds a level of transparency and trustworthiness. Meredith Klapheke, managing director for Beautycounter, a popular skincare and beauty B-Corp brand long-since known for its commitment to clean ingredients and social mission added:
“consumers want to use their money as a force for good, as a vote for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency”.
Our partner, Akeneo, through discussions with companies they work with, cited that the impact of products on the world around us has quickly become a top priority for 2022. According to Akeneo, these companies have started to contract with platform providers who can measure product impact with the promise of monitoring the entire supply chain and improving the carbon footprint of products.
Related reading: What Is Social Commerce?
Communicate Your Commitment To Doing Good
Getting certified as a B-Corporation is a way to communicate that your business is an organization taking both shareholders and other stakeholders into account. It’s an annual commitment to reflect and improve on your company’s governance and philosophies and be a part of the solution instead of the problem. A B-Corp certification is a way to show that your business is committed to society and sustainability in a way that consumers will understand and believe, instead of your message being drowned out by the over-saturated marketing noise and all too prevalent color-washing.
The 5 Global B-Corp Strategies
B Lab has a collaborative approach to change-making and seeks to work with other movements, policymakers, activists, and organizations to catalyze Certified B Corporations and drive sustainable change.
These are the five global B-Corp strategies they stand by to get there:
- Drive the adoption of our standards to manage the impact of business
- Certify and engage businesses to improve their impact
- Articulate and amplify stories of business as an equitable force for good
- Catalyze policy change to enable business as a force for good
- Develop a network of local, regional, and global communities for change
Adding B-Corp status to a robust digital strategy can serve the message of the triple-bottom-line mindset to your current customers, your employees and to prospective shoppers who are seeking responsible corporate practices. Klapheke added “working for a B Corp fills you with the knowledge that you are using your time and energy as an agent for positive change and working with an enterprise that values employees on the same level as prosperity and environmental priorities.”
How Vaimo Can Help
The demand for good corporations will only continue to grow, and brands increasingly realize that this needs to be a priority. If you are a brand hoping to highlight and confirm your commitment to the triple-bottom line, get in touch. Vaimo can help you align your digital strategy and tools to B–Corp practices and make sure you build a sustainable and scalable digital business model.