Hanging in the balance: the Purpose-Profit ‘win-win’

Read the Purpose X Profit report here.

For a long time, profit has been the guiding force for firms, driving growth and prosperity. But what happens when excessive growth is the exact thing preventing our planet and society from thriving in the future? With 55% of consumers expecting businesses to be more accountable than national governments for solving the climate crisis, ‘purpose‘ (the north star that ignites passion in people and guides all actions towards wider impact, rather than just growth and profit) is rapidly becoming the inevitable game-changer for brands that want to ensure sustainable future-proof success. The question is: how can purpose drive a win-win situation for both society and the firm’s profits?

1. Rooting purpose in reality

Combining profit and purpose can sound contradictory. We’ve come to think of one as greed and the other as selflessness, but the truth is that purpose can be good for a business’ bottom line. Beyond being the aspirational North Star for the brand’s activity, purpose is also a way of ensuring long-term wellbeing for all stakeholders and mitigating business risks.

2. Creating shared value

Co-creating value is an attractive prospect for the business world, mitigating the need to choose between growth and good. B-corporations are a good example of businesses balancing purpose and profit: they are experts in integrating social innovation into every stage of their business models, upgrading corporate responsibility programmes and collaborating with other organisations (within this network and beyond) to multiply both financial and social impact. These ambitions are often rewarded: research shows that accounting for sustainability progress leads to cheaper capital costs, better employee engagement and increased innovation capabilities, higher stock prices, and, eventually, growing business value

Yet, if a ‘win-win’ seems to be the best option, what’s the catch?

3. Flexing the purpose X profit balance

The problem is that going big with changing business models or launching new social initiatives is not always a realistic opportunity for every business. Corporate responsibility programmes often gravitate towards ‘easy wins’ – little production adjustments or small cuts of energy consumption – leading to 98% of firms not achieving their own sustainability goals despite presenting their easy wins as integrally transformative. Imagine a situation where a business chooses between two solutions: a smaller environmental impact with higher financial gain OR a big eco-conscious win with more limited business value. Both are a win-win situation. Whereas the traditional business thinking would be to opt for the higher profit gain, there are environmental and reputational risks involved that might drive a longer-term loss. Other companies, however, are already shifting their mindsets and product roadmaps towards the longer-term bigger wins, with Unilever recently announcing that the company might sell off brands such as Marmite and Magnum that negatively impact the planet and society, regardless of whether they are profitable

To tap into the opportunity of purpose driving profit, businesses need to adopt an agile mindset that embraces experimentation and a deeper sense of accountability, being ready to make bold choices and stand by them. This is the path forward to secure a prosperous future not just for the business itself, but also for everyone. Win-win. 

Explore more insights into how businesses can create shared value for all stakeholders, from investors to consumers and the planet in the Purpose x Profit chapter of our Transformative Purpose series.


Read the Purpose X Profit report here.

Six Reasons Your Business Needs an Impact Report

Fox & Hare explains the benefits of impact reporting and why it should be next on your agenda if you want to remain competitive.

Image Credit: @aplaceforcreation, Unsplash

There’s a lot of reporting involved in running a business. Annual reports, CSR reports, financial reports – all designed to communicate your operations to the wider world, and to validate your company’s place within it. Now another type of report is gaining traction in brand communications: impact reporting. And in a world increasingly concerned with business ethics and sustainability, it’s well worth your time adding this one to your line-up.

What is impact reporting?

An impact report communicates the tangible benefits (or, indeed, disadvantages, but more on that in a moment) that your company has on people and the planet. It tells your stakeholders, trustees, consumers, investors – whoever you’re reporting to – what quantifiable changes your activities are responsible for, reassuring them in the grand scheme of things that your business is ultimately a force for good.
Unlike traditional annual reports or even sustainability reports, an impact report does not simply outline inputs and outputs in a linear fashion. Rather, it explores outcomes and the meaningful change associated with them. This is typically quantified through known impact frameworks, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or Social Value UK’s Social Return on Investment (SROI) approach, although this will depend on your industry.

What does an impact report cover?

A well put-together impact report will be creative, engaging and visually appealing. It might include infographics, supporting financial information or a foreword from your CEO, but it should always cover:
– The need: the problem or challenge your business is trying to impact- The activities: what the business is doing to address this need- The outcomes: the result of these activities- The evidence: proving your claims- Lessons learnt: what you plan to do with this knowledge going forward

What are the benefits of impact reporting?

Adding yet another report to your communications catalogue might seem like an unnecessary effort, but having a well-produced impact report in your arsenal brings a lot of advantages.

1) Brand Affinity

Impact reporting shows would-be customers and investors that you’re willing to go the extra mile to demonstrate your values – something that is highly respected among today’s conscious-driven consumers.

2) Accountability and Transparency

Impact reporting is not about gloating, nor is it exclusively about good news stories. It is an open and honest account of the difference your business is making in the world, and how you plan to learn from your outcomes – this includes being truthful about mistakes or shortcomings. This type of transparency and accountability promotes trust with all your audiences.

3) Unexpected Wins

Spending time actively quantifying your impact efforts and their outcomes can often reveal unintended outcomes that can also be communicated to your audience, further strengthening your brand’s appeal.

4) Industry Leadership

An impact report puts your business in a position of active industry leadership, as well as helping to distinguish your business in an increasingly crowded CSR landscape. Having an impact report gives you a valuable edge on competitors that don’t, and against those that do, a well-produced impact report allows your audience to make straightforward comparisons. This can be a significant advantage for brands looking to compete with bigger names.

5) A Strong Workplace Culture

Creating an impact report means measuring all your impacts, which involves engaging staff at all levels throughout the business. This in itself helps to create a culture of cohesion and learning. The report itself can also help to motivate staff and foster a sense of employee pride as it promotes and celebrates company achievements.

6) A Solid Strategy Roadmap

An impact report is not necessarily separate from other company reports. If your impact data collection has been driven by your vision, mission, and theories of change, it’s hard for your impact communication to be anything other than integrated with strategy, helping to support all areas of your operations. Impact reporting can therefore help to inform your wider business activities, and vice versa.

Communicating impact is not a linear process, but it’s set to become an increasingly common – and important – business activity. Enlisting the help of an experienced impact communications expert will ensure your business is able to convey the meaningful difference it’s making in the world accurately and effectively.


Get in touch with Lauren lauren@foxandhare.co to discuss your impact reporting needs.

Four Reasons to Integrate Brand Purpose in Drinks

Fox & Hare explains why sustainability-centric brand communications are no longer a ‘nice to have’ for the drinks sector.

Image Credit: Innocent

The global drinks market is expected to be worth nearly $1.86 trillion by 2024 – growth that comes as no surprise given the increasing influx of innovation and choice to the sector. And yet despite this dominion, there’s one area where the market falls woefully flat: sustainability. According to the Drinks Industry Sustainability Index, the trade scored an average of just 4.8 out of 10 across a range of key environmental practices, including consumer engagement and communication around sustainable activities and environmental efforts. 

On one hand, this is a surprisingly disheartening finding for an industry so ingrained in consumers’ everyday lives. On the other, it presents a fantastic opportunity for drinks companies to distinguish themselves from competitors and to take the lead in a world increasingly listening in to the sustainability conversation. 

1. Align with consumer values

Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning about what they put in their bodies – just look at the recent explosive popularity of plant-based eating – and few things say more about our values and who we are than the food and drink we consume. In fact, a study by research organisation Meaningful Brands indicates that food and drink is classed as one of the top three ‘most meaningful’ industries across much of the world.

Consumers want reassurance that the brands they already know and love align with their values. As such, companies that take the time to integrate these meaningful metrics into their brand message are able to retain customers that may move elsewhere in pursuit of products they perceive as being better suited to their values. 

Robinsons squash, for example, has long been a favourite with kids, but dominant media campaigns about the negative health effects of fruity drinks threatened its favour with discerning parents. However, a shift in brand messaging and focus instead on real fruit, no added sugar, sustainable harvesting and helping kids drink more water has since seen the brand take top spot for the UK’s most popular beverage. 

2. Attract the consumers of tomorrow

Generation Z is on track to become the largest generation of consumers this year, and research consistently demonstrates that they favour brands that drive meaningful action and advocate for positive change. Brands that ignore this demand risk alienating their future consumers – future consumers that are prepared to pay more for sustainable products, at that. 

For this generation of shoppers, sustainability is as much a consideration in their product choices as the look, feel, capabilities or taste of the product itself – their thoughts and opinions on which can dominate online conversations at lightning speed. And the power of the internet narrative should never be underestimated. Nestle, for example, is still trying to rebuild its brand image following a period of online noise criticising its supply chains – and this was before social media became as pervasive as it is today. 

For the drinks industry, this means putting sustainability front and centre and communicating it in a way designed to appeal to this upcoming demographic. A new wave of sustainable water brands – Boxed Water, Just Water and CanO Water, for example – are striking this balance well.

3. Address the elephant(s) in the room

It’s no secret that the drinks industry faces a number of difficult sustainability and social impact challenges, chief among them plastic waste and, for the alcohol sector, responsible drinking. The global narrative is such that these issues can’t be ignored by brands, and consumers will rightfully be wary of those that do. 

Strong brand purpose means communicating these challenges openly and honestly – consumers appreciate this transparency: a sense of trust comes from authentic humility. As such, drinks companies that take control of the conversation around these difficult subjects can position themselves as industry leaders and ‘go-to’ brands for the growing number of consumers getting wise to greenwashing and clichéd CSR spiel. 

PG Tips, for example, used the growing discontent with tea bags’ plastic content to launch a biodegradable range, and made the move a central part of its overall brand communications. Carlsberg, meanwhile, has used its ‘Cheers Responsibly’ campaign to address consumer wellbeing and appeal to an upcoming generation that puts less stock in drinking than its predecessors. And in doing so, it’s able to attract more consumers to its wider sustainability messaging. 

4. Prepare for reporting changes

Finally, brands that take steps to integrate sustainability with their brand purpose will be better positioned to manage future reporting requirements. The International Integrated Reporting Council’s ‘Integrated Reporting’ Framework has long since been used by major drinks brands such as Coca-Cola, with many sectors now waking up to the need for a more all-encompassing company reporting structure. 

More recently, the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation has been exploring the creation of a standardised reporting framework for sustainability – or more specifically, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) data. Companies that are already positioning sustainability as part of their brand identity will inevitably find these reporting processes easier when the time comes.


If you’d like to chat more about how to integrate brand purpose and sustainability initiatives into your brand marketing, get in touch with Lauren to book a call lauren@foxandhare.co.

Five Reasons Your Sustainability Communications Are Falling Short

Fox & Hare shines a spotlight onto the word ‘sustainability and shows why it’s not a word to be thrown around lightly when communicating your strategy in this space.

As the global conversation around sustainability grows louder, it’s more important than ever that fashion brands communicate their efforts in this area effectively. Indeed, a survey commissioned by the Changing Markets Foundation found that only 11% of UK consumers agreed that the fashion industry informs them about the environmental and social impact of clothes manufacturing, while two-thirds said that it’s difficult to know which brands meet higher ethical standards.

Having a solid strategy isn’t enough – you have to make sure that communicating it doesn’t fall foul of these all-too-common pitfalls, as well.

1. You’re not telling the whole story

Transparency is critical in sustainability communications, so it’s vital that you’re completely truthful in the overall picture you paint of your operation. This means being upfront and honest about areas that need improvement and making it clear that you’re taking steps to address the issue. Conscious consumers recognise that sustainability is an ongoing journey and they value the honesty of brands that express humility in this process. 

They dropped the ball: In a move warmly welcomed by environmentalists, Starbucks pledged to eliminate single-use plastic straws from their stores by 2020. However, it soon became apparent that the new lids introduced to eliminate straws actually contained more plastic than the straws themselves. The company could have avoided a lot of backlash if it had made clear from the start that its new lids were an interim measure while it explored other plastic alternatives.

2. You’re not adequately backing up your claims

Consumers are well-versed in the concept of greenwashing, and are more inclined than ever before to ask questions about the products they’re being advertised. Any sustainability claims you make need to be verifiable from the get-go, which means having the right stats and data readily available to anyone who might want to see them. Any difficulty in obtaining this information gives customers a reason to be wary of your assertions. 

They dropped the ball: H&M launched its ‘Conscious Collection’ back in 2019, claiming that the organic cotton and recycled polyester in the range made it a ‘more sustainable choice’. But the company didn’t actually explain how these materials are better for the environment, and the brand was widely condemned for greenwashing.

3. You’re ‘othering’ sustainability

Sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – consumers increasingly expect it to be built into brand identity, and to include vibrant, distinctive and proactive narratives. Companies that view sustainability as a corporate bolt-on are liable to use tired clichés to communicate the basic efforts they’re making to fulfil minimal obligations, making it clear that sustainability is not really a priority.  

They dropped the ball: Research shows that 98% of organisations on Forbes’ ‘50 Most Valuable Brands’ list repeatedly use the same green clichés on their sustainability sites. One in particular, Louis Vuitton, has also been called a sustainability communications ‘sleeper brand’ in the Lundquist 2020 .future study. Despite a number of promising initiatives in the works, Louis Vuitton’s sustainability efforts are communicated in a way that remains at odds with its luxury status, and the company has struggled to position sustainability within its holistic brand identity.

4. Your best initiatives are flying under the radar

A good sustainability strategy comprises many moving parts, and undoubtedly each will be attractive to different audiences – investors, stakeholders, consumers – in different ways. Creating a wider sustainability conversation around your brand largely depends on bolstering your image among consumers, though, so you need to shout loud and proud about the initiatives you’re running that affect them directly.

They dropped the ball: A number of clothing brands including H&M and Marks & Spencer run take-back recycling schemes, which offer customers a discount for donating used clothes. So-called ‘fast fashion’ brands such as BooHoo and PrettyLittleThing also run incentivised recycling schemes. However, these initiatives are not well-communicated to the public, meaning the brands in question are missing the opportunity to engage customers with their wider sustainability efforts. 

5. You’re not saying anything of substance

There’s greenwashing and then there’s wishy-washy. Consumers expect brands to have a sustainability strategy of some description – what’s frustrating for them is an inability to identify the more responsible brands from others. Brands need to communicate bold sustainability action thoroughly and consistently to stand apart from others.

They dropped the ball: Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index 2020 scores the sustainability communication efforts of major apparel brands across five key metrics, including policy, governance, traceability, ‘know, show & fix’, and spotlight issues. Bally was criticised by the report for its overall score of 0%, which inevitably threw the brand’s sustainability strategy into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

As evidenced, there’s more to communicating a sustainability strategy than simply putting a report together. Conveying your message to the consumer in the right way is absolutely vital if you’re to take advantage of all the benefits your efforts stand to bring. Enlisting the help of an experienced sustainability communications partner will ensure the right message consistently hits the right channels, audiences and tone.


If you’d like to chat more about how to leverage your sustainability communications, or even to ask how those in the know have built a more impactful social strategy, you can email lauren@foxandhare.co to come and have a coffee (IRL or virtual)

Sustainability in Fashion: A Collective Responsibility

In Youth, We Learn. In Age, We Understand. While Gen Z is an easy target market for trendy sustainably sourced fashion, in reality, fashion brands need to expand their horizons.

Image credit: Patagonia Worn Wear Program 

The fashion industry is the third most polluting industry in the world, accounting for more than 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 20% of global water waste

By 2030, both of these figures are predicted to reach 50%, with total waste expected to hit 148 million tonnes globally.  

Thankfully, increased awareness of the issues at hand means that more companies and consumers are becoming committed to sustainability. 

But for responsible consumerism to have a long-term positive impact, the message brands push must not be confined to one demographic. 

In this article, we’ll look at why fashion’s eco-consumerism needs to engage audiences of all ages to encourage excitement and commitment to wider systemic change.

Cost matters

As digital-first natives, Gen Z (aged 18 to 24) have grown up with more access to information from more sources than ever before. They’re wise to important topics and are more inclined to outwardly support sustainable and industry-led initiatives on social media.  

Yet research shows an interesting disconnect between those expressing support online and actively investing in products that promote slower fashion.

The main reason for this disconnect?


65% of British Gen Z-ers reveal price is vital to them when buying clothes. Couple this with the fact that they’re drawn to fast fashion to be able to imitate influencers’ style at a fraction of the price of luxury goods and you have a chain that’s hard to break. This mindset ultimately dissuades Gen Z-ers from investing in more sustainable items. 

Slower fashion is naturally more expensive because production processes are more meticulous, using more ethically sourced materials and manufactured in conditions that are fairer to garment workers.

Higher investment is required to justify each step of the supply chain to be paid adequately. 

Therefore, it makes sense to target consumers who have grown up without the same access to information as Gen Z-ers but now fall within a demographic that has disposable income. 

Middle-aged and older audiences are more likely to be able to afford sustainable clothing at its current price point. With higher self-sufficient salaries, their purchasing behaviours are conducted over a longer life-cycle, with more care and attention taken as to which pieces of clothing they invest in.  

With purchasing power as a key measure of advocacy, including these audiences can help brands progress towards more sustainable practices within their outreach. This means they’re not solely relying on their younger counterparts, simply because they appear to be more visible advocates of the revolution.

Sustainability starts in the home

According to Fast Company, ‘cross-generational consumers‘ are responsible for the recent change in attitudes and behaviours towards more conscious consumption. 

Given the amount of time we spend in rooms where waste is created (i.e. the kitchen or bathroom), sustainable fashion goes against what we’re used to. But changing our clothing consumption habits can be easier if other habits are in place. 

Actionable guides like Country Life’s sustainability maps and Vogue’s planet-saving tips are great for getting their older audiences to think about living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. 

Making changes in one room or one aspect of your life can trigger a domino effect that spreads across all forms of personal consumption, from food and cleaning products to fashion.

The future of clothes shopping 

Image credit: Patagonia Worn Wear Program

Of course, encouraging consumers to adopt sustainable fashion can only work if the fashion brands themselves are doing their bit. 

Pleasingly, a growing number of them are.  

Take Patagonia, for example, which recently launched a second-hand store where customers can buy and trade preloved Patagonia-branded clothing. 

Or fashion rental platforms like HURR or MyWardrobeHQ which lets women lend and rent on-trend outfits from leading brands. 

Or the growing number of fashion subscription services such as Stitch Fix and A Curated Thrift which deliver a set number of items to customers’ doorsteps for a fixed price, providing a more personalised retail experience that offers customers more value for their purchase.  

With a 2020 YouGov survey revealing that “six in ten women (59%) aged between 25 and 34 […] and a third of women over 55 (33%)” would be interested in trialling this service is run by a brand they were familiar with, subscription services offer a long term solution for brands looking away to move away from fast fashion.

These initiatives show innovation is there. And the information is there. 

What the sustainable fashion revolution needs now is to rally the right kind of consumer and involve the older generation at the forefront. This way, it can have the impact that’s needed at the speed of progress that’s required.


If you’d like to chat more about how to leverage your Social Advantage, or even to ask how those in the know have built a more impactful social strategy, you can email lauren@foxandhare.co to come and have a coffee (IRL or virtual)

Replacing Physical with Digital Collection Boxes in Charity

Fox & Hare talks to charity sector marketing experts to share insight into the future of fundraising and the power of creative campaigns.

With Christmas around the corner, we’re venturing towards what would normally be the most charitable time of the marketing calendar. And while many of the messages communicated throughout 2020 encouraged acts of kindness, charities have struggled to produce the financial support required to offset the effects of the pandemic, having to reinvent their fundraising strategies, almost overnight. We caught up with leaders in the third sector to discuss innovative approaches to digital fundraising and customer activations, emotionally connecting with communities, and harnessing the power of engagement moving into our collective new normal. 

How creative approaches have boosted digital fundraising

At Fox & Hare, we experienced the power of digital fundraising when launching #TheBigMissYou for The Big Issue this year. This campaign, consisting of a hero film and customer activation, encouraged the public to digitally sell a subscription on behalf of vendors who couldn’t work on the streets over lockdown.

Speaking with Iain G. Morrison, group marketing communications director for The Big Issue on the success of the project, he told us: “Swift decisive action saw The Big Issue Group launch an appeal to help raise much-needed funds that would support our vendors and keep the organisation afloat. With a weekly readership of over 78,000; the support we received from our engaged customer base was incredible. 

A few days before the first lockdown, we made the difficult decision to take our vendors off the streets which posed many challenges, including the loss of 80% of our revenue overnight. From there, a suite of digital innovations (including a new app, online subscription and a shift in approach to online content), gave us the ability to sell online. Our engaged supporters donated, subscribed and shared our message far and wide; encouraging others to buy from vendors when they were able to sell, to donate, or subscribe online.”

Matteo Plachesi, head of marketing and communications at The Design Museum, reflects on the swift lockdown put in place across the design and art industries. To react quickly, he explained: “We immediately decided to extend memberships for the duration of the first lockdown. Members are key supporters of the museum and instrumental in inspiring the next generation of designers. This 19-week extension was accompanied by a series of exclusive content, including a virtual version of the museum’s 2017 blockbuster exhibition, ‘Ferrari: Under the Skin’ and a new blog series.”

Learnings and Conversions: from physical events to digital engagement

Behind the scenes, brands faced restrictions on physical contact, putting physical fundraising on hold. The challenge most organisations faced has been how to replicate face to face contact, digitally. Conveying sensitive messages face-to-face is hard enough; so how did the additional touchpoint of a screen affect the relatability of these conversations?

Zoe Roll, brand marketing manager at Action for Children (previously the brand marketing and communications manager at CLIC Sargent and our liaison for the #ChallengeImpossible campaign) joined the brand team during Covid-19. Her introduction of a variety of gamified touchpoints has proven vital to Action for Children’s digital efforts.

She explained: “Covid has meant that certain activities have had to be paused or pivoted this year – but we’ve used this as an opportunity to trial different ways to reach our current network and new audiences to raise income and grow brand awareness. We’ve had to focus on generating compelling content that will stand out amongst the wider competition and empower our warm community to become ambassadors in their own local networks to champion the campaign. Excitingly this year, we’ve seen the current climate as an opportunity to pivot some of our successful in-person events to virtual products for the first time ever. Our Events team have pivoted our London carol concert to a mass participation proposition – and we’re also trialling our first-ever virtual quiz with Instagram sensations Mr and Mrs Hinch. This is opening us up to a brand new audience that may have never heard of Action for Children before.”

Events are usually the cornerstone of any fundraising outreach. Laura Hedges, deputy manager at All Dogs Matter, a dog rescue and rehoming charity in London, reflects on a challenging transition to digital events to rescue and re-home pets. “Fundraising through physical events has historically been a key way for us to connect to the local community, raise awareness and generate income. With Covid-19 we have had to be much more creative with how we now generate income, focusing on digital fundraising which has resulted in a number of new initiatives. This year we have run two successful digital events that would normally have been face-face. The ‘Great British Bark In’ – an online dog show – replaced what would have been the Great Hampstead Bark Off on Hampstead Heath. We asked people to send in pictures and video entries for seven dog show categories, which was judged by our celebrity patrons and had a huge response, with 160 entries and lots of engagement across our social channels.”

How attitudes have changed towards fundraising in 2020

This year, we have seen the continued deceleration of ‘sadvertising’ and the acceleration of positive and uplifting content, as a means of celebrating the moments of positive impact and encouraging connectivity. For an organisation such as The Big Issue, the subject of homelessness has always produced strong emotional connections, and communicating its impact is essential to engaging with their communities.

Iain notes this to be a part of their overarching goal for 2021, saying: “Emotionally connecting with your audience(s) remains vital. Marketers sometimes feel they’re drowning in data and paralysis can follow. But, there’s plenty of research that shows emotional connections drive results. Things that make your target audience smile or laugh are the sorts of things they’re more likely to share with others. Things that make them sad, or inspire them, stand a greater chance of motivating them to act.”

Louise Goulden, founder and CEO of The Together Project, a registered charity reducing social isolation through joyful intergenerational connections, agrees: “Emotionally connecting with your audience has always been vital, but whilst the growth of digital platforms offers new opportunities to connect, we also risk over-saturation. It’s getting harder and harder to create content that’s so engaging that your audience not only pauses to properly read or watch it but then acts upon it in some way. So, defining the purpose of each piece of content and then designing it to trigger that outcome is crucial.”

Finally, we caught up with Lauren Mee, CEO and co-founder of Animal Advocacy Careers: an organisation that aims to tackle the bottlenecks in the animal advocacy movement. In somewhat unusual circumstances: “This year we made our first hire (outside of co-founders) in marketing and communications, this is quite unusual as it is usually operations for most NGO’s in their infancy. However, we realised that a key bottleneck to our own success was building the credibility of our brand and gaining visibility of our services in order to help as many people as possible. James (our M&C hire) did a great job at the beginning of this work for us, and I think it was an integral part of the success in uptake for our courses this year.”

Racing towards this new landscape, we are faced with instability and new obstacles. We can embrace transformation by converting learning into action and finding innovative ways to strengthen customer connections. After all, no single one of us has the power to do more than what we can all do, together.

Changing the World: How Technology Can Maximise Social Impact

Fox & Hare catches up with TechXperts on tech and brand sides to hear how they harness technology and impact initiatives to scale brand awareness.

Published in September 2020, Nielsen’s most recent report has found that a staggering 73% of consumers would definitely change their consumption habits in order to reduce their environmental impact. AI, blockchain and emerging technologies present an opportunity to leverage sustainability, social impact and ethical sourcing in some of the world’s largest industries. It’s interesting to see brands who have recently put these technologies at the forefront, and benefited immensely from doing so. As social impact specialists in the brand space, creative consultancy Fox & Hare are interested in the future of using technology to increase brand awareness alongside impact. By using technology within this space, it can help differentiate a brand or company from its competitors and gives them a niche advantage. Fox & Hare caught up with TechXperts on both the tech and brand sides to hear first hand how they harness technology and impact initiatives to scale brand awareness. It looks at how brands can combat issues such as overstock and waste, their carbon footprint, and supply chain transparency.

From Batch to Real-Time – How AI and Blockchain Can Prevent Overstock and Waste

To start, we spoke with Tony Pinville, the CEO and co-founder of Heuritech, on how his trend forecasting AI technology has helped the likes of fashion industry giants such as Louis Vuitton, Adidas, and Moncler achieve ‘an unprecedented competitive advantage’ through sustainable production at the planning stage.

F&H > Heuritech has a trend forecasting precision rate of 90%. How has this tech helped brands tailor their planning strategies to reduce overstock?

Tony > In order for fashion brands to reduce overstock and optimise their production, Heuritech provides data-driven trend forecasting to help brands better plan their collections. Our technology analyses images from social media in real-time to forecast trends, which gives brands the necessary insights to then plan their collections. This kind of comprehensive data gives brands the opportunity to be clinical in their collection planning, and as a result, to avoid overstock. For example, in our Festive Seasons Report for European womenswear 20/21, Heuritech predicted that for Winter 2020, metallic fabrics are down 14% from last Winter. With that information, a brand now knows not to include this particular trend in their assortment this season – in this way, overstock and waste are prevented very early on, even before the design process.

F&H > Fashion is a notorious contributor to landfills. Can you provide an example of how Heuritech has helped reduce waste in this industry?

Tony > As we know, overproduction is one of the most detrimental aspects of the fashion industry. According to the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report 2019, for example, clothing production is expected to hit 102 million tons by 2030, which represents a 64.5% rise from 2017. The principal reason for this overproduction is often inaccurate demand predictions in terms of both quantity and variety. One of our clients needed to decide if they should include chunky black sneakers in their collection or not. Heuritech’s analysis found that the trend would indeed continue to rise, particularly among edgy women in Europe. We even determined the precise shape of this shoe that would be most desired, and as a result, our client increased their sell-through by 15% and drastically reduced the number of markdowns in this category.

Food waste accounts for 6% of all global greenhouse emissions and £770m in losses globally, which is why it is so important for applicable businesses to address it. Shane Munro, VP food and beverage, Accor Northern Europe, talks about how the Accor Group partnership with blockchain-based food waste management company Too Good To Go helps elevate Acoor’s standing as a global brand and impact leader.

F&H > Accor’s partnership with Too Good To Go helped save almost 400,000 meals from going to waste across the European Accor properties since 2016. How does this partnership play into your brand purpose?

Shane > The fight against food waste is an integral part of the way we operate as a corporate citizen around the world. We recognise that food waste is a significant problem within the hospitality industry and by partnering with Too Good To Go we hope to reduce this waste by making surplus food from our restaurants available to customers. Doing so not only helps to reduce our carbon footprint as a business but also has a positive impact in the local communities our hotels are based in. High-quality food is available at great prices and consumers know that by making an order, they are having a positive impact on the environment.

Sustainability as a Service: How Tech Companies are Moving into Carbon Negative Futures 

For our next interview, we chatted to Andreas Slettvoll, CEO of CHOOOSE, on how his climate platform technology is helping the travel industry and consumer-facing brands use digital touchpoints to engage consumers in climate action.

F&H > A major selling point of your service is that you give clients the choice in the CO2e-reducing projects that they partake in. How does this enable your customers to take action aligned to their strategic objectives?

Andreas > CHOOOSE offers technology and API integrations built to eliminate any friction that keeps companies from acting on climate change. This means that we enable our partners to spend time and efforts on what really matters; driving impact. CHOOOSE actively sources a global portfolio of impactful climate projects from which partners can select their climate compensation programs. This enables our partners to easily offer seamless climate compensation that fits their corporate values and consumer preferences. We believe the freedom to choose is key, as we know that many brands use the Sustainable Development Goals as a compass when building their sustainability strategies. Allowing our partners to select projects from the SDG goals that are aligned with their values and strategies, enables them to compare and measure their positive impact based on the realisation of the SDGs.

F&H > How do your customer-facing climate compensation programs via CHOOOSE Connect help companies engage their customers?

Andreas > We founded CHOOOSE on the belief that the climate crisis has a communication problem. That we need less doomsday talk and pointing fingers to avoid apathy, and more optimism to inspire action. This way of seeing things is also reflecting the way we work with our partners. Our purpose has become to do everything we can to change the narrative on climate communication by sharing words, news, and content that makes people understand that their actions matter. Our contribution is to cheer instead of spreading fear and to help engage as many as possible into the mindset that if we all do a little, it suddenly becomes a lot. For some partners, we also engage directly with their customers by providing a digital space to view, understand and share their personal climate impact from their interactions with the brand. We’re actually launching a new and engaging feature for end-consumers shortly, so stay tuned! The campaign invited Viessmann employees, partners, friends, and family to collect as many kilometres as possible for the climate, either by bicycle or by running. For every kilometre run and every three kilometres cycled, Viessmann supported tree planting and forestation projects around the world through CHOOOSE. Viessmann employees, family, friends, and trade partners cycled and walked a distance of more than seven times around the earth. In total, over 5,000 participants from more than three dozen countries participated. Not only did it boost internal engagement, and health benefits – they also supported the planting of 150,000 trees. This is a great example of how a brand can create an internal engagement to boost a positive impact that its customers can (hopefully) also get behind.

Lasso Loop’s pre-purchase program manager Kieran White shares how consumers can take actions towards reducing their carbon footprint and joining the recycling revolution. An innovative recycling appliance that makes used materials 100% recyclable, Lasso Loop is needed for the sustainability of our planet and will play a pivotal role in the transition towards a circular economy.

F&H > What are the challenges in the world of recycling?

Kieran > Recycling currently has two major problems – purity and accountability. The most common materials used and subsequently discarded are plastics, glass, metals and cardboard. If we use plastic as an example, currently only 9% of the total produced plastic is recycled, which means 91% goes to landfill per year (that’s 7.5 billion tons, which is equivalent to 22,000 Empire State Buildings!). This is because the different types of plastics are currently discarded and collected together, and subsequently mixed, which contaminates the vast majority. This means they can’t be recycled in an efficient or accurate way, so nearly all 22,000 Empire State Buildings-worth are sent to landfill. Alongside this, due to the size of the industry, no single organisation is being held truly accountable, while many are profiting from their negative effect on the planet. Lasso believes the power can be in your hands. When you purchase a product, you also pay for the packaging, it only makes sense that you choose where it goes and profit from its value. In short, the Recycling industry is in desperate need of innovation. Therefore, the power to change Recycling for the better of our environment lies with every single one of us. This is why the Lasso appliance is needed.

F&H > How does Lasso Loop address these challenges?

Kieran > Lasso is an appliance for your home that collects, cleans and processes used materials and stores the subsequent products, all from the corner of your kitchen. Each product is stored separately, maintaining 100% purity and subsequently allowing it to be 100% recycled (that’s right, from 9% of plastic recycled from your home to 100%! – from 22,000 Empire State Buildings of landfilled waste to none). We guarantee every single piece of used material that enters the appliance will be recycled, landfill is a dirty word at Lasso, hence we will never contribute to it. As a result of the near 100% purity achieved, we know exactly what is recycled, holding us accountable. The true value of your used materials is also unlocked through purity, meaning you’re able to earn cash from the recyclable products you produce.

Addressing the Consumers’ Rising Demand for Supply-Chain Transparency 

For our final interview, we caught up with Josephine Rode Bager and Mikala Alexandra Wilson Skov, founders of London start-up Marleybones: a dog food company using blockchain technology to share the full story, journey, and sustainable impact of each product from farm to bowl. They talk to us about how supply chain transparency goes hand-in-hand with their product offering.

F&H > Marleybones has partnered with Provenance blockchain technology for supply chain transparency. Can you talk to us a little bit about the reason for implementing this tech in your business model?

Josephine & Mikala > It all started with Josephine’s dog, Marley, who constantly had stomach issues from his food and struggled to gain any weight. As a worried dog-mum, Josephine scoured the entire market for a healthy diet for Marley. But what she found was tonnes of mystery ingredients and unverified claims, leaving every dog owner puzzled about the content, quality and origin of the meals. In fact, the poll of UK dog and cat owners reveals that the nation’s knowledge of pet food ingredients is extremely low, with over 62% admitting to not knowing what they’re really feeding their pet. A common meal composition will include ingredients such as ‘meat-meal’, ‘vegetable-derivative’ or ‘meat by-product’, which doesn’t resemble anything of the meat or veg you would serve up at home. Even more shockingly, the words we do understand, like ‘chicken’, can be labelled on dog food if it contains only 4%. It’s an industry that hasn’t evolved for so long, and the result of this is waste products such as feather and blood, with no nutritional value, ending up in our dogs’ food, and the heart-breaking fact is that the average lifespan of dogs eating low-grade food products has dropped 11% in just a decade. And that’s a number we can’t stand by and watch. Alongside claims of quality and content crowding the pet food space, examples of greenwashing have started to emerge, in an industry that sadly has a detrimental impact on our environment and farming practices. To give one example, we have nearly 10 million dogs in the UK alone, eating nearly 40% of our nation’s meat production. That’s equivalent to 400 million chickens ending up in dog food each year. You will find that most of these are caged chicken in spaces smaller than an A4 sheet. That’s why we at Marleybones are trying to make a difference, not only for the lives of our dogs, but also the lives of farming animals cramped away in cages, workers’ conditions and unnecessary waste. Using real, human-grade ingredients to provide honest, nutritious food that will ensure happy, healthy companions, and sourcing these from conscious farms in the UK to help protect our earth and all it has to offer. Through the transparency platform Provenance, we are able to provide a tamper-resistant proof that we’re doing exactly this. When we say that all our proteins stem from animals raised in harmony with their natural environment, we show the free-range chickens, grass-fed lamb and cattle and hand-reared salmon we are using. When we claim that our supply chain contributes to a low-carbon economy, we show how our suppliers use renewable energy and limit food waste in their farming practices. And when we claim that Marleybones is the sustainable, healthy choice for your dog, you too can be the judge of that.”

F&H > How has the implementation of this tech steered communications around Marleybones product offering and social impact?

Josephine & Mikala > It’s quite simple – implementing this tech enables us to communicate exactly what our product offering is, and what social impact we have. Without all the propped-up branding, wordplays and empty claims, but in a simple, consistent way directly to shoppers. By laying all our cards on the table, consumers will know exactly what they are buying into, who they are supporting and what they are feeding, without any of the guesswork. A brand isn’t a result of its end-product alone. We believe it’s important to understand the work behind the product to fully understand the impact of what you’re buying. This technology allows us to communicate more than just the story of our products – we’re able to show every single part of our products, right down to the third generation family that grows our carrots, the pioneer that decided to grow the very first chia and quinoa in British soil and the pair of brothers who lovingly rear their free-range chickens while running food charities! We’re sharing each of their histories, credentials, accomplishments and approach to food, so consumers know who they are supporting when choosing Marleybones.” F&H > Do you expect the implementation of supply chain transparency to increase customer loyalty? Josephine & Mikala > By far the majority of pet owners agree that they pay as much attention to the ingredients that go into their pet’s food as the ingredients their family eats, and that it’s important that the ingredients in their pet’s food are ethically sourced. The problem resonates in the challenge of figuring out what you actually are feeding your dog. By providing the full story, journey and sustainable impact of each meal, from farm to bowl, we invite all customers to assess our meals and understand the impact behind what they’re buying. We’re hopeful that being completely transparent, open and honest will help build consumer trust.

The Key to Getting Social Impact Right Is Defining Authenticity for Your Brand

Fox & Hare co-founder Ben Fox discusses the role of strategy and planning in the social impact world, and how they’re helping brands fast-track their creative efforts.

As purpose continues to rise to the top of consumer priorities across both B2B and B2C marketing, brands are looking to social impact strategies as a means of encouraging business health and longevity. LBB caught up with Ben Fox, co-founder/ strategy and planning director for creative consultancy Fox & Hare, helping brands #MakePurposePriority, to talk about the role of strategy and planning in the social impact world, and how they’re helping brands fast-track their creative efforts.

Little Black Book > So, what role does social impact have at Fox & Hare?

Ben > It’s everything to us and it’s the reason why we started the agency. We wanted to work with brands across the entire spectrum of positive impact – big brands that need convincing, the small brands that need extra team resources, and everything in between. Looking at my role in the company, it’s bringing together my two specialisms and passions; strategy/planning and social impact. I see myself as the point of connection between the client and the creative team, building the evidence to support creativity and ensure that our work always aligns with the client’s business and marketing objectives – and enable our campaigns to speak to audiences and drive tangible results. We’re now part of the B Corp community, which means we’re having to work just as hard as our clients – which gives us all an even sharper focus on how we operate as business in every single aspect.

Little Black Book > What’s the best part about your job?

Ben > Honestly, it’s being able to work with brands that I care about. I’ve always felt that strategy and planning are the most underrated department in an agency – often being pigeon-holed as researchers who shouldn’t be client-facing. And while creatives are the rockstars (always have been, always should be) in a creative consultancy, my role is to give them everything they need before they get too far down the wrong route! And as a co-founder, it’s building an agency that challenges what it means to be an agency. It’s the small things, the collaborative culture, the open-mindedness and passion that we put into our work because we live and breathe social impact – it’s our lifestyle when the office doors close at night.

Little Black Book > Do you believe that brand longevity is somehow correlated to social impact – can you talk about the value this brings to brands? 

Ben > Broadly speaking, there’s now a lot of evidence that highlights how consumers are demanding genuine social impact initiatives from businesses. It’s no longer enough to just say something and sit back. Brands have to prove more and more that they are doing good – doing nothing is no longer an option. Brands are acting now to remain on their customer’s radar every single time they put their hand in their pocket. If your business won’t make changes to fit into the new way of thinking, eg) caring about impact and your footprint on the planet, another business will. We have spoken to brands from every sector under the sun, there are several challenges that come up time and time again. 1) Fear of legacy getting in the way of progress 2) Differentiating from other brands in the industry 3) Proving that social impact can have a measurable impact on the bottom line That’s where strategy and planning can help to bridge the gap between the unknown and getting started. Research, insight, understanding and evidence all help brands to understand where they should really be putting their marketing efforts in a meaningful way for their customers.

Little Black Book > You talk about creating ‘genuine stories’ – what steps can brands take to successfully integrate them into their long-term strategies? 

Ben > Firstly, a business has to be honest from the beginning. There is no hiding anymore – if you’ve done something negative in the past, own it. There won’t be any progress if you hide behind a false truth. It might sound dramatic, but it massively helps to understand exactly what we’re working with before we get too far down one path! As a strategic advisor, our role is to uncover authentic impact stories that will inspire consumers to choose your product or service, so we need to be more convincing than our rivals. A non-genuine approach will tear the whole campaign apart before it even starts.

Little Black Book > How do brands with legacy and history authentically move forward on their social impact journey? 

Ben > Well, accept that you haven’t been perfect for starters. Positive social impact manifests across the whole business, not just one department in the company. A good starting point is understanding where your business has fallen down in the past and why. Once you know the reality, you can start to engrain your social purpose across the company through your employees. It’s key that senior management buys into this, of course, for investment reasons (money and time), but having the populus believing and living positive social impact in the workplace is essentially the make or break situation. A negative legacy will naturally mean more work is required with employees, customers and consumers, but it is far from impossible. When a new brand enters the market they have an advantage in many ways – but what they usually don’t have is the ability to impact on a mass scale. Newer firms will have smaller resources and customer bases, so generally their influence on the market, specifically referencing social impact, tends to be lower. A giant organisation, while it may take longer to turn the ship around, will have the power to do more good in the long term.

Little Black Book > At Fox & Hare, you’ve talked about social impact being a ‘point of differentiation’ – can you explain the value of this for brands who might be on the fence about dipping their toes into the water with social impact creative? 

Ben > The reality is that social impact has always existed. Issues such as climate change, youth unemployment, elderly isolation, societal diversity, financial wellbeing, workplace health etc., have always been there. And it’s great that businesses are talking about these key topics. But when everyone else is doing the same it can be difficult to stand out. That’s why we work with clients to develop their genuine narrative and focus on the areas where they have the most authority. In reality, there’s just no point in a soft drinks producer focusing all of their creative efforts on mental health, for example. The idea that soft drinks and mental health are linked is thin – coupled with the idea that there are thousands of similar conversations taking place in more appropriate scenarios. As an experienced strategist, I work with my clients to find their area of expertise and their reason for being, then match this with a clear differentiator in their marketplace. Only after serious development will we build the roadmap for success. My best advice here is for brands to take their time, build something worthy – not just jump in because everyone else is doing it.

Little Black Book > It feels like social media and social impact have a lot in common when it comes to the ways brands view them. Have you found that this is the case, and how? 

Ben > Absolutely, when commercialised social media burst onto the scene, it quickly became popular with brands who saw it as a new touchpoint with their customer – in many ways, purpose and social impact have been used in similar circumstances. And just like social media, brands are falling all over themselves to get out to their customers with their latest take on global issues. Mistakes have been made (and will continue to be made) in recent times – who remembers a popular soft drinks brand weighing in on the riots in the States, for example? Countless others exist too. But we can learn a lot from those errors. – The first learning being that social impact done properly was never going to be a ‘first past the post’ effort – It will never going to deliver results without any real thought or planning – Social impact is a long-term game, not a short-term fix – it’s also not crisis comms – On a similar note, positive social impact is not a one-time idea, it will evolve as time goes on, just like social media has – so be prepared – If your brand is not being genuine, you won’t be able to hide behind your purpose for long

Little Black Book > What’s the final piece of advice you’d give to our readers as we screech towards 2021? 

Ben > This is a simple one – get in touch with Fox & Hare to find out how we can support your journey in the social impact space – our specialists are equipped with experience, expertise and all the passion in the world to devise, develop, produce amazing work – and support you the whole way. Plugs aside, I’d say that businesses should use less corporate jargon and technical blabber. Always communicate in a way that speaks directly to a customer. Be human.

The Big Issue and Fox & Hare Support Sellers by Sharing True Success Stories in Time of Crisis

With footfall on high streets significantly down, the campaign seeks to shine a light on the ways sellers are supported.

On World Homeless Day, The Big Issue (TBI) has launched a digital campaign to highlight the support that Big Issue sellers receive from the Frontline team at the organisation in a bid to help boost sales of the magazine. The Big Issue, which offers homeless and vulnerably housed people across the UK a means by which to earn a legitimate income, took the decision to safeguard its network of sellers and the public by asking that they stop selling on streets across the whole of the UK with immediate effect on 20th March. On Monday 6th July, Big Issue sellers returned to selling the magazine across the country. However, with footfall significantly lower on many high streets, every sale counts and support from the public is needed now, more than ever. The campaign, called ‘The Big Opportunity’, developed in partnership with creative agency, Fox & Hare, seeks to shine a light on the support that Big Issue sellers receive from the team on the ground in order to pursue their ambitions and passions.

The Big Issue team of over 60 frontline staff work with sellers in the following ways:

  • Connection to specialist support services, access to safe and secure accommodation, support to gain official ID which facilitates registering for many services including obtaining a bank account
  • Access to The Big Issue Vendor Support Fund for tools or items sellers might need to improve their lives Support with money management and digital and financial inclusion
  • Help with exploring career opportunities by helping sellers to recognise transferable skills, update their CVs, search and apply for jobs and with interview coaching
  • Back to work programmes, including corporate vendor placements and partnerships with organisations where there may be opportunities for sellers to take on roles within the business

The campaign consists of a series of 12 success stories that show the opportunity that selling The Big Issue provides people with for a chance to change their lives and realise their ambitions. The stories will be shared across the organisation’s website and social channels for four weeks. The first story, to be shared on Saturday 10th October, World Homeless Day, tells the story of Big Issue seller Martin McKenzie, 39, from London. He’s now been able to earn a living outside of selling the magazine and has aspirations to expand his mobile bike repair business. Martin has been supported to obtain a passport for ID and provided him with a card reader so he can accept contactless payments. Martin has also shared his mechanical skills in The Big Issue magazine’s weekly Seller Expert column. Martin said: “I can turn my hand to anything. I’m educating myself in electric bikes at the minute so I can have a general understanding of how the battery packs work, and the motors, and how to rechain them and so on. The bigger picture for the business is a rickshaw. The Big Issue has always led to better things for me – it’s been there to help me get back on my feet a few times now, and I’m determined to get back on my feet this time too.” Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “With city and town centres a good deal quieter than usual, it’s very tough out there at the moment for Big Issue sellers. We felt it important to show people how life-changing our support can prove to be. Not only do we provide people with a means to earn a legitimate income by selling the magazine but we work closely with each and every seller to help them on their way to pursuing ambitions that they may have. “We ask that you please be a part of that process of giving someone The Big Opportunity they need and deserve by buying a copy of the magazine. We would encourage anyone who wants to support us who doesn’t have a local seller to support The Big Issue’s mission to help people in poverty improve their lives, by buying a subscription to the magazine.” Ben Fox, Strategy and Planning Director at Fox & Hare, said: “Following the success of #TheBigMissYou creative campaign at the start of lockdown, Fox & Hare wanted to continue supporting The Big Issue’s mission even further by championing the huge effort that frontline staff provide in order to improve vendors lives, as well as promoting a handful of the vendors themselves who are proving that hard work pays off in the long-term. “There are so many opportunities for vendors and it’s all possible because of their frontline staff, so we wanted to share the powerful message of the #TheBigOpportunity to encourage more vendors to join up. Now more than ever, The Big Issue needs support to keep this life-changing work moving, so we’re urging everyone to subscribe to the digital edition of the magazine and play their part too.”

To read more about Martin and the other 11 stories being shared over the next four weeks, click here.