Despite Mr Trump criticising both Nike and Mr Kaepernick last week following Nike’s new advert, sales of the brand soared after the ad was aired last week. The markets’ initial response after the showing of the ad was to devalue the company by 3.16% but this now seems to have been completely out of sync with the general public who raced to put their money into Nike.
This is not unusual. Institutions, corporations and governments are often out of step with the public, who generally are more passionate about injustice in society than they are. Nike’s slogan “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” is clever as it refers to Kaepernick not being signed by any NFL team after his kneeling protest at the USA national anthem. But it refers to more than that. These days consumers are wanting to put their hard-earned money behind brands that stand for something even if this means spending a little more, although this is by no means always the case.
This was noticeable at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair a week ago. Many of the new brands I saw there were standing for a cause of one kind or another, not just good food. They were committed to giving turnover or profits to animal welfare charities, anti-slavery funds or under-served communities in various part of the world. What was noticeable too was the number of people that came to the Cotswold Fayre pavilion asking about B Corp, which was displayed very prominently. Many more people are now aware of B Corp and the businesses that are making a difference in the world.
The encouraging truth is that most people within all generations, not just the young, are more likely to spend their money with companies who care. Large corporations are well aware of this and this is reflected in their advertising campaigns. However, not all this is real, and some of these companies are still treating their supply base and their own people and indeed the planet with disdain. Consumers are not gullible though and thankfully can generally see through this greenwash. This discernment will have to become sharper as companies become more sophisticated with their claims. A certification organisation such as B Corp is going to become more and more essential to sift the wheat from the chaff.