3 ways brands can make amends in 2021

December 3, 2020

Forgive me, for I have sinned…

Does your brand need to right any past wrongs? Atone for any historical environmental, cultural, social or diversity transgressions? Consumers will increasingly expect it next year as corporate social responsibility no longer only applies to the here and now.

The demand for ‘Retrospective Resolution’ is just one of the new trends featured in Trending 2021 – The Report – our definitive guide to the trends shaping consumer mindsets and expectations next year.  

Build back better with a clean slate 

A culture of forensic investigation lies ahead. Consumers are delving deep into brands’ past records to search for – and call out – any evidence of wrongdoing, whether that’s a historical lack of diversity, unpalatable connections with slavery, or an outsized carbon legacy. 

Brands like Google and Microsoft have already detailed the steps they are taking to nullify their carbon legacy. And, in June 2020, Lloyd’s of London and Greene King announced that they will compensate minority groups to make amends for their founders’ roles in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

Penalties for inaction or wrong-footing 

In June 2020, L’Oréal’s “speaking out is worth it” Black Lives Matter campaign received huge backlash, as the brand had previously terminated its contract with black trans model Munroe Bergdorf specifically for speaking out about racism. 

New transgressions will come under the spotlight next year – from factories with poor labour conditions to brands that push relentless consumerism. And the ongoing brand analysis will spill over into consumers reflecting on their own personal legacies.

How can your brand meet the challenge of retrospective resolution – and reparation? How can you help consumers make up for their past buying choices, too? 

  1. Stress-test messaging against your brand’s past. Examine your brand’s history to ensure that present-day messaging is in step.
  2.  Own your brand’s past transgressions – and offer a positive vision. Consumers will appreciate an honest appraisal of your brand’s past record of social and environmental issues – even if the findings that are unearthed are less than savoury. Vow to do better moving forward and offer a roadmap to a brighter future.
  3. Quantify your reparation efforts. To demonstrate that your brand is not just paying lip service but is instead truly serious about making amends, give savvy consumers as much detail as possible about your reparation efforts – from how charitable donations are being used, or how carbon emissions are being offset. 


Want to understand more about how consumer trends will impact your business and sector in 2021? Download our Trending 2021 preview report now.


Written by Dominic Harrison

Director of Global Trends at Foresight Factory. Wish for the future? A world where new generations of smart tech adopt a less interruptive and visible presence in our lives. No more phones at dinner!

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