The Certified B Movement
Food brands are being scrutinized more than ever these days. Consumers seek many credentials. For instance:
1. Clean label
3. Locally produced
4. Sugar content
5. Sustainable packaging
6. The environment
7. The end of systematic racism.
There were many other points I could have added to the list. On the latter point, a recent survey of Canadians revealed:[i]
- 65% of Canadians said it was important that brands “take the steps necessary to ensure that their organization is racially representative of the country as a whole” if they want to earn and keep consumer trust.
- What’s more, 84% of Canadians said a brand’s response to racial injustice would cause them to gain trust.
In the past, any one of those points listed could have been identified as a key point of differentiation. Today, they are the norm and not the exception – “A standard of achievement or behaviour that is required, desired, or designated as normal”. Brands cannot take these issues for granted. Consumers of all age groups, especially Gen Z and Millennials are willing to pay more for certified product information by an independent third party. This gives rise to corporations becoming “Certified B” Corporations. I first learned of this certification having worked with Crazy Richards peanut butter. The more I learned of this certification the more I came to recognize its importance in today’s market.
“Welcome to: The Certified B Movement”!
“B Corps are businesses that act in ways that benefit society as a whole. What defines them is their belief that the purpose of a company is not just profits, but also social and environmental good.” Carla Hem, Senior Advisor Social Entrepreneurship at BDC says “B Corps are at the cutting edge of innovation, good governance, and corporate citizenship. They are tackling major systematic challenges. They are truly innovative businesses.” [ii] Commenced over a decade ago, more than 3,500 companies in 70 countries are Certified B. As noted by Veena Harbaugh, Director of Marketing and Communications at B Lab, “Despite the disparity in resources, startups, and emerging brands may have an advantage over established companies with scale when it comes to gaining certification.”[iii]
To certify as a B Corporation, a company must achieve a minimum score of 80 out of 200 possible points on the B Impact Assessment, which analyses how the day to day operations of business support:
2. The community
3. The environment.
Just one in three brands that apply for certification make the cut. To learn more visit: www.bcorporation.net.
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is a Certified B Corp. On their website (www.bdc.ca), they list the following benefits for businesses that attain this certification:
- Attract millennial employees.
- Attract social media interest.
- Allow you to compare your company performance with your peers around the world.
- Give you entry into a group of entrepreneurs who seek to do business with each other.
Though consumer awareness remains low, this certification also adds value and credibility to what you say when talking with buyers.
Social and environmental issues will remain at the forefront of consumers for the foreseeable future, specifically those of Gen Z and Millennials. A 2019 study undertaken by Markstein, an integrated communications agency revealed:
- 76% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues.[iv]
Similarly, a 2017 study on corporate social responsibility revealed:
- 87% of consumers will have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues.[v]
Brands seeking to address these issues and maintain a positive brand image with their customers would be wise to become Certified B. As consumers become more familiar with this certification, such a status will become the norm with consumers, not a point of differentiation.