2017’s Social Enterprise Brands to Watch

6 min read

Today, consumers base their purchasing decisions on more than the functionality of a product or service. They care about how companies give back to the world around them. In fact, 70 percent of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it makes a positive social impact. This has led to a rise in social enterprise brands — companies that aim to make an impact on social, cultural and environmental issues and make a profit. 

What makes some social enterprise brands stand out from the crowd? Strategic marketing. Here are social enterprise brands to watch in 2017 and why.

Here are #socent brands to watch in 2017 and why. Click To Tweet

1. Love Your Melon

Who they are

Love Your Melon began selling winter beanies in 2012 on a “buy one, give one” model — for every hat sold, Love Your Melon donated a hat to a child with cancer.

But they sold so many hats that they ended up with a surplus of hats to donate. Now, 50 percent of Love Your Melon’s profits fund cancer research initiatives and provide immediate support for families of children battling cancer.

Its founders, Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller, were both college students when they founded the company, and college students still play a huge role in the organization’s success today. At 850 different college campuses across the United States, 13,500 “campus crew members” serve as ambassadors for the brand. These college students help Love Your Melon raise awareness of pediatric cancer and serve as representatives for sales and promotional initiatives.

Why they’re one of 2017’s social enterprise brands to watch

Love Your Melon has successfully diversified its product offerings over the years. While it started out just selling beanies, Love Your Melon has expanded to include T-shirts, headbands and other accessories. The founders say they plan to scale up Love Your Melon even further to become a fully-integrated apparel line.

Additionally, Love Your Melon’s marketing strategy continues to evolve, expanding to celebrity partnerships, donation events and digital campaigns. For example, its recent partnership with Artifi allows brands to partner with Love Your Melon to add their logo to its products. Love Your Melon has also strategically implemented Instagram ads to target female consumers, which has helped the brand increase its same-day sales.

Millennials are more likely to invest in companies committed to social impact than any other generation. Love Your Melon, with its millennial-driven leadership and continuing growth, is a great example of how social enterprise brands can leverage this trend.

2. Patagonia

Who they are

Canada-based apparel company Patagonia was founded in 1973. While its commitment to sustainable outdoor clothing hasn’t changed, its marketing tactics have become more creative over the years, all the way up to 2017.

Why they’re one of 2017’s social enterprise brands to watch

Patagonia continues to create new, innovative education initiatives that highlight to consumers the importance of sustainable clothing. For example, last year it launched re\\\collection, an apparel line made out of recycled fabric.

The 43-year-old brand is also taking new strides to reach younger generations. In its third year, the “Worn Wear College Tour” travels to college campuses across the country each spring, repairing students’ clothes for free.

Patagonia is also one of 2,168 companies that is certified in its commitment to creating an impact while making a profit. Like Prosper Strategies, Patagonia is a B Corporation. This means the company meets the environmental, social, accountability and transparency standards set by the nonprofit organization B Lab. You should keep an eye on companies that are certified B Corporations — these social enterprise brands are on the rise.


Who they are

LXMI, a company that produces an organic, synthetic-free hydration and wrinkle-prevention skincare product, was founded by Leila Janah in 2015. At the core of the product is the rare form of shea butter called Nilotica that Janah came across when traveling in Uganda. Described as the “Chanel of social impact,” LXMI aims to be the luxury cosmetic brand that gives back.

Why they’re one of 2017’s social enterprise brands to watch

LXMI achieves what many social enterprise brands strive for. LXMI’s product is both sustainable and produced ethically. LXMI’s product is harvested by marginalized women in the Nile Valley, which provides an opportunity for them to earn a living wage and support their families. Creating a women’s cosmetic brand that also supports women in need makes sense. And, not only does LXMI offer an organic product and provide dignified work to East African women in need, it’s a startup that’s on its way to becoming a household name. It’s already sold in 300 Sephora stores across the U.S.

The media is often drawn to social impact companies like LXMI that offer a product people want with an impactful message behind it. LXMI and Janah have been featured in several large outlets from CNBC, to W Magazine and The New York Times.

4. Lush

Who they are

While it is another cosmetic brand, Lush is very different from LXMI. Lush sells dozens of handmade cosmetic, bath and body products ranging from shower gel to eyeshadow. Lush also has a few years on LXMI — it’s been around since 1995. Lush takes a stance on a variety of social issues — some of which relate to its products, like animal testing, and others that don’t, such as the death penalty.

Why they’re one of 2017’s social enterprise brands to watch

Many beauty brands have been increasingly outspoken about politics and other hot-button issues, but Lush takes it to the next level. Much of Lush’s website content takes a stance on a variety of social issues, from how the beauty industry neglects Middle Eastern women to fighting the fur trade. It even recently filmed a 10-minute documentary, “Exonerated,” about its stance on capital punishment.  

Lush publishes opinionated content often right next to its articles on health and beauty advice, which proves how social enterprise brands can successfully market their products and speak up about important issues at the same time.

Heather Deeth, buying manager for Lush North America, says sticking to its core values of fresh, handmade products doesn’t just help the environment; it helps the company’s bottom line. Lush’s philanthropic mindset and commitment to taking a stance on social issues keeps customers engaged, which is something other social enterprise brands can take note of in 2017.

5. Countable

Who they are

This year’s post-election climate has created an environment for some social enterprise brands to prosper. Countable, a mobile app that launched in 2014, makes it easier for citizens to understand the laws Congress is considering, and streamlines the process of sharing opinions with lawmakers. It’s the most popular app of its kind.

Why they’re one of 2017’s social enterprise brands to watch

Countable, and other startups like it, have risen in popularity since the recent presidential election. Countable was downloaded more than 500,000 times between November 2016 and January 2017 and helped send more than 1 million messages to lawmakers in February. This has led to further media coverage of the brand.

As more people turn to social media platforms to participate in political discourse, apps like Countable are increasingly relevant.

What other social enterprise brands have caught your eye in 2017? Share with us on Twitter or Facebook.

If you’re a social enterprise in need of a marketing strategy to help your brand stand out from the crowd, we’re your firm.

Communicate with impact - a guide for social enterprise leadersWant to get your social enterprise brand on the map for 2017, 2018 and beyond?  Our ebook, Communicate With Impact: A Crash Course in Building a Results-Driven Marketing Program for Your Changemaking Organization can provide the actionable insights you need to develop or redevelop your mission-driven marketing strategy to be the next big thing and further your impact.

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