“Increasing Market Share through Social Branding” was the theme for the second annual Peace and Prosperity through Trade and Commerce Summit, sponsored by USD’s Ahlers Center for International Business and the World Trade Center San Diego.
“When companies are aligned with a cause, 90 percent of consumers will consider switching brands, and 82 percent say they are not as price sensitive,” said Jake Kloberdanz, chief executive officer of ONE HOPE, a lifestyle brand whose cornerstone product is wine and whose mission is to donate 50 percent of the profits for each product in its portfolio.
But a good product is still a requirement for success, he added. “You sell the first bottle because they like the cause and the first case because they like the wine.”
Making a commitment to social responsibility isn’t always easy, said Dennis Macray, who oversees initiatives for company-wideÂ ethical sourcing at StarbucksÂ Coffee. The company has made a commitment to have 100 percentÂ of its coffee responsibly grown and ethically traded by 2015, but it means monitoring a complicated supply chain of growers, buyers and distributors. StarbucksÂ is currently the largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified Coffee, he said, and has developed a set of guidelinesÂ and scoring on topics like child labor, wages and environmental practices.
StarbucksÂ has been closing stores andÂ seeing revenue declines in recent years,Â althoughÂ its stock priceÂ is on a rebound and hit a 52-week high on Friday. Macray said the challenges of the last few years haven’t prompted Starbucks to retreat on its environmental and social commitments; in fact, it has “doubled-down” on them as it refocused on its core mission and values. For example, the company aims to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for all new company-operated stores beginning in 2010,Â he said.
Starbucks didn’t wait toÂ become a big company before fostering a commitment to social responsibility, something speakers encouraged the audience filled with students to consider as they start their own firms.Â They also said that if students have a great idea for a new firm, especially oneÂ that combines passion with profits, they should consider starting it even before they leave school, where a network of resources from fellow students and professors is readily available.
“School is the best place to start a company,”Â said Priya Haji, chief executive officer and co-founder of World of Good, a company that connects shoppers with ethical buying opportunities throughÂ companies like Whole Foods and eBay.
â€” Liz Harman