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By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

December 13, 2022 | 7 min read

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The Drum and Xandr invite thought leaders from OMG Unite, Kantar and Microsoft Advertising into the news studio to explore the rise of the ethical consumer and what it means for brands. Watch the full video above.

While the consumer comes first, advertising professionals, have a major role to play in driving change

While the consumer comes first, advertising professionals, have a major role to play in driving change

In the advertising world, there’s a lot of noise around ethics, diversity and sustainability. Driven by consumers, many of whom are motivated to ‘do good,’ seeking out ways to lead a better life, and are now looking to the brands they interact with and companies they work for, to help build a better world for the future.

With this behavioural shift, comes the call to marketers to make change, to prepare their business for an ethical and sustainable future and optimise for success by creating authentic, long-term value with their audience. But how can they get started?

Back to the beginning

To build a truly ethical brand, socioeconomics (neurodiversity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religious beliefs, political views, earnings) must be considered to create a welcoming place for all. That starts internally with recruitment from minority backgrounds, flows through individual, organisation and campaign specific KPIs and carries all the way through to how marketers present their brand through advertising and even where the ads are delivered.

Serhat Ekinci, managing director, OMG Unite, speaks from experience: “Being mixed and having worked in PR, market research and media, I felt that most of the work didn’t represent me or my life. Brands only talked about diverse communities if they had a specific product for them.”

Raising the visibility of diverse-owned media suppliers and improving reach to minority audiences is increasing, along with the technology to help surface minority owned media outlets to large scale buyers. Take Xandr’s Curate technology, the self-serve tool that allows sellers to create packages of pre-selected inventory and surface it to buyers via the push of the button. Here buyers can find pre-packaged inventory to suit their needs, and if they can’t, they can build their own. Consider carefully who to work with and how these companies can support your brand in achieving all your ethical needs.

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The consumers of 2030

Topics such as diversity, inclusivity and sustainability are here to stay, driven by the younger gen Z audience, many of whom are now reaching adulthood.

It is predicted that by 2030, gen Z-ers will have $3.5tn of disposable income and be responsible for $3tn of consumer spending. Raised on the internet and social media, the speed at which they can learn about world-wide events has helped shape their characteristics, traits, and values. They are passionate about solving the world’s wrongs, have really open-minds and awareness of others when it comes to gender and sexuality, are secure in their values and optimistic for their futures, despite any external pressures. It is important for marketers to invest in getting to know them, understand how to speak to them and in this era of hyper-connectivity, where to reach them. Only then can marketers truly succeed.

“Gen Z are a generation that don’t just embrace diversity – they look beyond definitions and categorisations,” explains Millie Ashbee, senior consultant, Kantar. “A huge part of this is self-expression and a need for ‘realness’. They’re a generation with an extreme sense of pragmatism, they recognise the world is imperfect and reject overly polished aesthetics, conformity, and uniformity. Over the next decade we’ll see concepts of beauty, aspiration, success, progress, independence, and connection – all of which are critical for advertising – be stretched and refined.”

Marketing with purpose

Purpose, is a brand’s ‘reason for being’ it is the most powerful tool a marketer has. The purpose, needs to reflect the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and beliefs, and must run through everything the brand does.

“Ethical advertising is about truth, fairness and equity in a brand’s message and their consumer’s experience,” says Theo Theodorou, managing director, Microsoft Advertising. “People are looking for brands to be authentic, especially in the face of change and uncertainty. Marketing with purpose is about building trust and creating shared meaning, building a brand that is welcomed into people’s lives by earning their trust and upholding their values.”

The time has come to move beyond our considerations of purpose in relation to traditional success metrics. There are brands already proving that exceptional results can be achieved, both for society and their bottom line. With planning underway for 2023, it is time for marketers to put customers and communities first, take a considered, authentic approach and act with purpose to deliver what their audience needs in the face of change.

An eye on the future

While the consumer comes first, advertising professionals, have a major role to play in driving change. With these new consumer considerations and with economic uncertainty driving budgets down, how can advertisers achieve more with less? It begins with the supply chain.

“The true hidden cost of advertising is starting to unravel, caused by complicated, siloes, inefficient tech stacks. A single tech stack, an end-to-end provider affords both control and transparency across the supply chain, adding value to a brand’s bigger CSR purpose and meeting the needs of the consumer,” concludes Karan Singh, head of advertiser partnerships, Northern Europe, Xandr.

Change is inevitable but it’s not something to fear. By making informed and purposeful decisions for the supply chain on who to partner with, ensuring the values match, advertisers can bring their brand to market to win with the conscious consumer. As we look to the New Year, there really is no better time to start building towards this vision now.

To explore these insights in more detail, watch the video above.

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