Impact Investment Marketing Saves the Day by Connecting Finance and Emotion

Impact investment marketing helps connect finance with emotion when promoting sustainability

Products like organic foods, fair trade goods, and clean energy differentiate from their non-sustainable competitors by not only explaining the tangible consumer benefits, but also the existential. This week an article by David Hawksmith, co-founder of sustainability consultancy Given London, was featured in The Guardian discussing four categories of emotion that sustainable brands use to communicate benefits to consumers:

  • Contentment – to minimize harm and probability of bodily destruction
  • Nurturance – to facilitate familial and social bonding
  • Seeking – to reward curiosity, survival abilities, achievement and excitement about achieving the desired goals e.g. food and stimulation
  • Assertiveness – to overcome restrictions on freedom of action

As the rapidly growing capital markets side of social enterprise, impact investing brands socially and environmentally-conscious stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, REITs, and other products with the goal of making a positive impact in the world. The issue for marketing impact investments is that performance numbers do not fully explain the story of how investors’ dollars are making a difference. The demand for these types of products is growing considerably and will continue to grow, especially as younger generations invest and save more.

Just like other kinds of sustainable products, branding and advertising for impact investment companies is required to make the connection between objective performance and human emotion. All four categories of emotional appeal can be applied to impact investment marketing as well. An impact investment clean energy fund might target clients’ seeking emotion, looking for new alternatives, while international socially conscious bonds might focus more on nurturance of underprivileged communities. As we examine the emotional benefits in our socially conscious investment marketing efforts, delving even deeper and considering both the good that the underlying companies are doing and the feeling that potential investors experience by supporting them can help create better marketing and branding connections.

Managers need to begin thinking through what an impact investment fund or impact investment company website, core message and branded materials are telling clients on the emotional level. At MBC Strategic, we are looking forward to seeing how firms begin differentiating impact investments from their counterparts in the traditional investment sector.