Wayfair – you’ve got just what I need.
Is it possible you sang that as a jingle rather than reading it as text? That’s how well Wayfair has disseminated their message and infiltrated our retail and consumer space.
As a disruptor in the home retail space, Wayfair has filled the gap of providing accessible designer (and designer inspired) home furnishings, along with one-stop shopping, great prices, and often free delivery. Wayfair definitely has just what consumers need.
But, they also apparently have just what the US federal government needs to furnish their controversial camps. It recently came to light that Wayfair was profiting from selling beds to the US government for camps associated with many troubling human rights stories. At 1:30 on June 26 2019, Wayfair employees staged a walkout to protest their senior leadership enabling, supporting, and profiting from practices that aren’t in keeping with their core values. 547 employees signed a letter of petition asking the CEO to reconsider those contracts. Being a disruptor can often seem like you’re the outsider in a stale, stagnant category, but it doesn’t mean you can operate without purpose and core values.
So what should Wayfair do now?
One of the most important macrotrends of the decade we’ve identified is “Trust and Transparency.”
Gen Zers, aged around 4 to 24 years, are being raised to question everything by cynical, highly individuated Gen-X parents. Gen Zers are being brought up as critical thinkers. They demand authenticity and they want to support brands that live their values.
Brands that want to be successful over the long-term need to acknowledge and act on this trend. They need to do the right thing and act with a purpose. But they can’t simply use purpose as a fleeting tool to achieve profit. Unless that purpose is genuine, it won’t count as doing the right thing.
Uber, a disruptor in the transportation vertical, failed in this regard. They acted too late to accusations of unfair business practices by crossing picket lines and ignoring assaults on their customers. Their failures to act genuinely, transparently, and quickly enabled more rapid growth of their competitors.
On the other hand, DiGiorno Pizza took a bold stand by publicly admitting an error in judgement when one of their tweets appeared to make light of domestic violence. Even though they made the right business decision by apologizing repeatedly and genuinely, a mistake was still made. But being genuine and transparent about mistakes goes a long way with consumers and employees.
Consumers and employees have the power to forgive. In fact, 61% of consumers say admitting mistakes builds transparency. Today, DiGiorno pizza has more than 134 000 followers on Twitter, and they remained, by far, the top frozen pizza brand pre and post that blunder. Clearly, consumers forgave their mistake.
So why should Wayfair care?
People are increasingly walking the talk by choosing brands and companies based on their heart and their wallet. #GrabYourWallet is one of many consumer activist movements that helps people boycott retailers that don’t share their values. It’s just one of many examples of how consumers want to do the right thing and will act if retailors don’t follow suit.
Though the employees don’t feel this is in keeping with their demands, Wayfair has donated $100 000 to the Red Cross.
Will this be enough to keep Wayfair off the #GrabYourWallet list? Only time will tell.
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