Coca-Cola's recent Super Bowl advert, depicting a multi-ethnic cast singing ‘America the Beautiful’ in various languages, showed a bold move by the brand leading to a certain amount of public outcry.
Sometimes, trying to be too ahead of the times can leave your customer base feeling alienated. However, stagnation can be equally dangerous to a brand, and any companies that don't move forward risk being left behind for good. Bearing this in mind, how can clothing companies flourish, by developing a reputation as brands with modern ethics?
Corporate Responsibility – Not a Fluffy Subject
Brand reputation is becoming increasingly reliant on social media and public opinion, and a brand’s public relations now depend not only on their shop front, but on their entire supply chain. A strong global sourcing strategy is essential in order for a brand to maintain a good ethical reputation.
Multiple high street fashion stores came under public pressure to cut off the global sourcing of angora wool late last year, following a video leak by animal rights activist group PETA depicting the abusive treatment of Angora rabbits in a Chinese factory. The video spread like wildfire over social media, leading to a huge petition demanding that stores stop sourcing from these factories. Many fashion chains have now suspended the sourcing or production of angora products as a result of this, with ASOS hosting discussions directly with PETA as part of their decision making process.
The cost of doing nothing was evident in the massive media backlash faced by stores which continued to sell existing angora products over Christmas, in attempts to avoid the inevitable losses that would result from pulling stock off shelves. An ethical global sourcing strategy might have saved these companies from resigning piles of unwanted stock to warehouses, never to be sold.
Responsible Supply Chain Management can Prevent Recall Disasters
Production tracking plays a vital role in sensible supply chain management, and it’s not only a brand’s ethical reputation that can be put on the line if this process isn’t taken seriously enough. Last September, several international fashion clothing brands failed quality tests in China conducted by the Shanghai government's market regulator. Items were deemed sub-standard for various reasons, including the use of dyes that can cause skin allergies. Besides inevitable damage to brand reputation, products which could harm the public can also mean huge financial implications for a company. If a product is made by an unauthorised and unknown subcontractor, all liability falls back to the retailer, and if a substandard product reaches store shelves, any potential legal costs will fall on them too.
From Sewing Machine, to Store
Following the tragic garment factory collapse in Bangladesh last year, news reports heavily publicised the names of brands which were supplied by Rana Plaza, and protesters demonstrated outside the offending stores. International development minister Alan Duncan referred to the tragedy as a “wake-up call” for British brands, citing that "our own high street brands must assume responsibility for their products, from the store right back to the sewing machine.”
Segura provides a supply chain management system that can prevent such risk exposure, and give a brand true peace of mind. In an era of bad news quickly going viral, no one can afford the cost of doing nothing.
Originally published 06/02/2014