Welcome To The H2H Era! Danone as a B Corp

Danone, the French food giant, has decided to undergo the B Corp certification, which is a real challange, considering that  Danone is listed on the stock exchange and that failure to achieve this goal could have negative repercussions on the company, adding only “paperwork and unnecessary restrictions” [1]. Instead, the CEO Emmanuel Faber has announced the goal to reach the necessary parameters for the certification and to become a B Corp by 2030. Danone North America – the eighth (and largest) branch of Danone – has already become a B Corporation certified. Danone North America is the company’s 8th subsidiary to become a certified B Corporation. Despite what critics claim about the certification, B Corp’s status establishes integrity and builds consumer goodwill for brands looking to connect with growing consumers.

But the risks are worth taking, Faber said, because “certification has received great support from employees and has won over skeptical investors” [2]. It has also instilled confidence in the banks, with which Danone has renegotiated at a lower loan of two billion euros [3].

Faber fully embodies the role of the corporate activist when he declares that he wants to be a promoter of a “food revolution”[4] and urges the industry to join a “movement” that aims for “the adoption of healthier products and of sustainable eating habits “[5] .

Food sovereignty for us means giving up control and restoring power to people, and how credible would we be to tell our consumers if we didn’t start with our employees?”[6] Faber asks.

To be credible as a ‘brand activist,’ all stakeholders, starting with employees, should embody the values ​​of the company and its ideology. “The purpose can become marginal if you don’t work at it. Therefore, it is essential to give people the responsibility to make the brand responsible for its goals and philosophy.”[7]

The new era of ‘people powered brands’ is no longer just a consumer at the center program but a paradigmatic transformation from Business-to-Consumer to Human-to-Human (from B2C to H2H).

The ‘legal person’ can become a ‘natural person’ through the hundreds of faces, personalities, and dreams that constitute the ‘workforce’ of every business reality. Bryan Kramer, who first used the expression H2H, said, Businesses do not have emotion. People do. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. People want to feel something. People want to be included.”  [8] It is not just a ‘social media’ strategy [9] in which it is sufficient to show the team behind the product and the magic is done. No. All human resources must be involved and treated as resources and humans. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is investing huge budgets in campaigns to activate your customers and not invest effectively in internal communication, making little effort to tell your story and your progress within the company. Showing the social impact that the company is having can be highly effective when it is measurable and closely linked to the company’s operations.

We hope that Danone, once it has obtained the certification, will promote a 180° sustainable revolution, setting the pace for other players, perhaps starting with the plastic issue. Maybe then the company will think twice about launching “innovative products” like Eletrolytes Evian for millennials [10] or Mickey Mouse water for children. The oceans will be thankful.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmainwaring/2018/09/28/business-building-lessons-from-the-largest-b-corp-in-the-world/#70e5f19379f4

[2]  https://it.businessinsider.com/b-corp-un-new-model-of-capitalism-good-for-state-that-create-value-for- all-the-societa-only-only -for-the-shareholders /

[3] https://www.reuters.com/companies/DANO.D

[4] https://www.just-food.com/interview/how-danones-manifesto-is-shaping-its-corporate-activity-just-food-interview-part-two_id137131.aspx

[5] https://www.marketingweek.com/danone-repositioning-manifesto-brand/

[6] The whole concept behind food sovereignty is for us to surrender control and give the power back to people, and how credible would it be to say to our consumers if we don’t start with our employees? “

[7] https://www.marketingweek.com/danone-repositioning-manifesto-brand/

[8] https://bryankramer.com/there-is-no-more-b2b-or-b2c-its-human-to-human-h2h/

[9] The Value of Getting Personal on Social Media

[10] We re-ignited our evian brands in the US through the innovative #Iwanna campaign featuring Maria Sharapova, Madison Keys, Luka Sabbat and many inspiring micro-influencers across the country. Engagement was 20 times higher than traditional campaigns, reaching over 18 million consumers.

Author: elena grinta

I have been dealing with communication for 20 years, I have worked in marketing for large international and Italian companies and I know the mechanisms of advertising persuasion. I decided to invest my know-how and my skills to use the available resources of companies (budgets but also human capital) in positive transformation. Because to students from all over the world I teach at Purpose Brands in Catholic University I wish to give more and more examples of virtuous companies that have invested for the future, of everyone (and there are already many!). Because if we watch, without acting, without taking responsibility, we have no excuse.