Opinion: Social change led by MarTech & the way forward

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Anubhuti Sharma, Founder & Group CEO of Impresario Global, talks about how businesses have shifted their marketing strategies to drive social change by leveraging MarTech.

For the longest time, only non-profit organizations or governments worked towards changing people’s attitudes, creating awareness about social causes and influencing civic behaviour. Why? Post the pandemic, more corporates and private institutions are focusing on giving back to the community with mission-led marketing by leveraging technology. What caused this shift in marketing tactics? 

Also Read: Road to 2023: A year of inclusive marketing for the BFSI sector

Today’s consumer expects humanity and trust. Businesses have had to re-think their marketing strategies and drive positive social change along with profits by leveraging MarTech. MarTech has been one of the most powerful emerging platforms to address various social causes and make way for awareness, knowledge, and behaviour change. In addition to economic growth, it also offers the optimum opportunity to influence social change via corporate social responsibility and cause marketing. 

Driving Deeper Social Impact With MarTech 

Several brands have realized the accelerated importance of social impact for business since the pandemic. Perhaps a day too late but marketing campaigns now focus on raising awareness, challenging preconceived notions, and influencing the norms of people through subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) mission-driven marketing campaigns. 

Take, for example, a prominent lifestyle brand’s campaign around body positivity. The brand infused their campaign with the purpose to challenge the stereotypes on shape, size, and skin color. They used their product and brand to make women feel more confident and beautiful, deploying MarTech. This initiative improved the brand’s image that focused on utilitarian outcomes, to one that is empathetic and focused on values and addressing important issues. Of course, it also drove up their sales and brand loyalty. 

Other examples of brands leveraging MarTech for CSR

Customers today are very socially conscious and this affects their buying decisions and job preferences too. Only brands that understand this and infuse their marketing strategies with community-driven development programs can survive in the long run. Here are some examples of brands that leveraged MarTech to showcase their commitment to bettering the world while balancing profit.

A MarTech tool to show supply chain transparency: A prominent footwear and apparel company used MarTech to improve and showcase its labour practices to its customers. The organization implemented a tool that allows buyers to see where the products were manufactured and the working conditions in those factories. This helped the company be more transparent about their CSR efforts and also improved the working conditions in its supply chain.

A MarTech platform that  monitors CSR efforts: A consumer goods giant implemented a MarTech platform to keep a track of and measure its sustainability goals. The platform allows the company to set targets for and track the progress towards certain SDGs like reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water usage in real-time. This helps them continuously monitor and improve their sustainability performance and be more accountable.

A MarTech tool that shows the social impact of products: A well-known clothing company that is famed for its commitment to sustainability leveraged MarTech to implement a tool that allows consumers to see the environmental and social impact of the company’s products. This not only showcased the transparency of their CSR efforts, but also helped influence customers’ buying decisions.

Empathy: Core of Business Values 

Empathy and authenticity are at the heart of all human values. Putting others first, taking into account their needs and taking action for the greater good of the community creates a more considerate and collaborative society. Is this information new? NO. Japan has been doing this for decades, with civic empathy and mindfulness ingrained in their very culture and habits. The world saw this when Japanese fans cleaned up the Al Bayt stadium after the opening match at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. And this is not the first instance, there have been previous heartwarming and inspiring instances when Japanese fans and players have cleaned up spaces after matches.

In the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, the ‘Samurai Blue’ supporters cleaned the stadium after the match. Japanese fans did the same during the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the Japanese men’s team also cleaned their own locker room and left a thank-you note in Russian. BUT, how do we know about it? Technology made it easy to capture this and disseminated this act of civic behaviour, consequentially amplifying prosocial behaviour among other fans to follow suit. 

Can MarTech be leveraged by civic stakeholders, beyond just advertisements that in turn offset the resources available for creating authentic impact, to create a network effect with civic empathy at its crux? If yes, what next? 

The Path Ahead for Marketing 

Post the pandemic, people expect businesses to be more conscious of their impact on society. So, what can businesses do to appeal more to their consumers? Leverage MarTech to amplify social causes and their impact. An example of this is when a global fast-food chain used MarTech in 2016 to create an awareness campaign to fund the battle against hunger and undernourishment, which they amplified through their social media and digital channels. Through their website, people across locations could contribute more through an interactive online session, which helped the brand raise funds to feed thousands of children. Executed in 2016, this is one of the first few instances of how brands have leveraged MarTech to promote a social message through their products. 

New-age stakeholders are now realizing the value of being socially responsible. They’re integrating their businesses with pressing social concerns to achieve a balance between economic and social growth. Initiatives like these need to be recognized and incentivized to encourage and inspire more businesses to get involved beyond unavoidable greenwashing. With more such purposeful campaigns integrated with regulatory policies, MarTech has the potential of being the mirror of globalization - less the black and Bandersnatch. 

This article is authored by Anubhuti Sharma, Founder & Group CEO, Impresario Global

Disclaimer: The opinions shared in the article are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publication.

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