Protesters in safety masks and bodysuits gathered affront the Just Jeans’ Melbourne CBD store yesterday demanding The Just Group sign The Accord on Fire & Building Safety in Bangladesh.
The company’s resistance to join 70 major retailers in signing the international safety standards agreement has caused backlash across the Just Jeans Facebook page, with consumers demanding it make the commitment or lose business.
Just Jeans has chosen not to respond to the comments, yet have not deleted them.
The Just Group has not yet responded to B&T’s request for a comment on the protest, having only previously stated that it has upholds its own set of safety standards. Ethical Work Australia – the leaders of yesterday’s protest – point out that the standards are not transparent.
Director of Two Social, Richard Spenser, said: “It’s a classic mistake hiding behind internal systems rather than facing the issue. Ignoring comments on your social media profile contradicts the point of having it in the first place.”
Steph Grapsas of Thinktank Social agrees but adds; “As consumers we are becoming more aware of the less desirable, and tragic, consequences of our consumerism. Social media plays a big role here – we've got a new way to discover it, discuss it and shout about it."
Commenting on what impacts the resistance to sign could have on The Just Group, Naked’s Adam Ferrier said; “In my mind there is not a lot hanging the Just Jeans brand together and I would have thought they can ill afford this negative publicity."
Yesterday’s protest highlights the increasing expectation of brands to be socially responsible in its contributions to mass consumerism.
“Brands' social responsibility behaviours are increasing exponentially, correlated with the growth of social media,” says Ferrier.
“Consumers more than ever are keeping brands honest, and exposing them when their standards are not up to scratch. On the flip side brands now see acting socially responsibly as good for business and maintaining reputation – hence they are doing it anyway.”
Lack of transparency is another area of concern gaining increasing awareness among consumers, with some brands addressing it directly in their marketing.
The overall opinion is that The Just Group should stop resisting and address the backlash to limit further negative impact.
Richard of Two Social says: “If this issue continues to be handled poorly it could be very bad for The Just Group. They need to engage in the conversation and turn it around to their advantage. That said, these things can have a short news cycle.”