Alex Lily and Rosendo Martinez
The power of social good and corporate consciousness is a rising trend at South by, so much so that it has merited its own track “Social & Global Impact”. Regardless, it has been evident in almost every panel. People want to get behind brands that positively impact the community and the world, and it is important, now more than ever, that brands become beacons of positive change.
Throughout the conference, videos of Elon Musk saying, “you should not just focus on fixing something, work on something that inspires.” This has become a clear motto for SXSW, as people focus on not only acquiring new customers and growth but also making an impactful social and environmental change to the world in which they work; thus, a win win for everyone.
In Rohit Bhargava’s discussion of his book 7 Non-Obvious Trends Changing the Future in 2019, he explored the trend “enterprise empathy”, which positions businesses to showcase their involvement in the community and connect with customers on an emotional level. One example he gave, is that of the supermarket industry in the UK in which grocers like Tesco offer slower lanes and quiet hours so that customers with specific mental and health needs can shop in comfort and at leisure. Thus, they were able to tap into an underserved market and change the daily lives of their communities by making grocery shopping more accessible for all. By tackling the problem emphatically, companies are able to better strengthen their mission, engage with customers, and find new avenues for growth.
In a fireside chat with Christopher Gavigan, the co-founder and chief purpose officer at The Honest Co., and Nina Montgomery, the author of Perspectives on Impact and Perspectives on Purpose, aptly titled, “Moving Beyond the Buzz of Purpose & Impact”, both discussed the struggle of businesses and social enterprises to tackle and hold on to purpose in a meaningful way. Both said that it was evident that social impact as the purpose of a company is great driver of growth and brand engagement but it is critical that companies ingrain this purpose in to the entire culture and strategy of the business. You have to “show up in a meaningful way” in order to create a “global and iconic brand”.
During the Bumble brand activation called the HIVE SXSW in which they took over Jo’s Coffee, each corporate employee passionately referred to the social mission of empowering women. Clearly, this purpose is deeply ingrained to the cultural foundation. It is reaffirmed in each and every way the brand grows, even so that expansion into India challenged the company to culturally adapt by ensuring women’s safety.
When companies have a mission and become champions of social improvements, they strengthen from the inside out. SXSW once again empowers executives, employees, and innovators to gear their companies to become leaders of positive social and global impact, a win win for everyone.