In 2016, as Lindsay McCormick was working as a reality television show producer and catching a different flight every other week, it bothered her that she was going through countless travel-sized tubes of toothpaste. As a former surf instructor, she had unsettling memories of the plastic that littered the ocean and beaches where she taught lessons, and she wanted to avoid contributing to the earth’s waste.

McCormick searched for alternatives to solve her toothpaste quandary, but everything on the market was packaged in plastic. Although she stumbled upon some plastic-free toothpaste tablets, the ingredients in them included harsh chemicals. And so, she started taking online chemistry courses on nights and weekends and talking to dentists and hygienists to formulate her own substitute.

It was a hobby—not a business. She simply wanted an effective toothpaste to combat her vegan lifestyle, as a high-carb diet tends to cause more cavities, and to reduce her own environmental footprint. Eventually, McCormick found the right combination of ingredients, bought a $1,000 hand-press tableting machine and figured out how to package the toothpaste in a glass jar.

“I saw this solution, and I thought it would have an incredibly niche appeal. I assumed it would be me, some of my hippie friends, my parents—who are just always going to be supportive—and maybe some of my TV producer colleagues wanting this stuff,” McCormick says. “I figured it would be an Etsy shop, and I’d also sell it on Shopify with the goal of just making my money back from the equipment I bought.”

McCormick, now the founder and CEO of an oral care brand called Bite, was wrong.

Like many other executives, she discovered that consumers are increasingly gravitating to businesses with a purpose. In fact, they’re even demanding accountability on issues like environmental impact and more racial and ethnic diversity in brands retailers carry or who is represented in C-suite offices.

This consumer cry is leading more merchants to highlight sustainable products or practices, center their mission on charitable giving, take a position in support of social causes like racial justice, and pledge to give people of color more access to management opportunities and wholesale partnerships. And retailers say these commitments are leading to positive social media mentions, lower customer acquisition costs, higher conversion rates, increased customer loyalty and upticks in revenue.

There is “clear and strong” evidence that consumers evaluate companies through the lens of their own belief systems—a trend that has been…


To get immediate access to the rest of this article—which includes case studies on Imperfect Foods and e.l.f. Cosmetics plus data and charts on the performance and email marketing of values-oriented brands—sign up for a free strategy membership using the “join for free” button below. If you’re already a member, please sign in.

Want to read more?
Unlock Free Strategy Membership

Complete your free registration now to access this story and more in-depth reporting, data, and analysis

Already a member? Sign In