Social enterprises are competitive businesses in the marketplace, yet insubstantial research has investigated how they market their businesses. This paper aims to investigate the impact a social enterprise label – “Buy the Good Stuff” – used in Edinburgh has had on consumer awareness and explore whether a possible national label could be used as a marketing tool by social enterprises in Scotland.
The study uses a mixed-methods approach, consisting of an online questionnaire with 100 participants and seven semi-structured interviews with representatives of social enterprises involved in the marketing campaign in Edinburgh and representatives of social enterprises who were not involved in the campaign.
Findings indicate that the label used in Edinburgh has had little impact on increasing consumer awareness of social enterprises. However, a national label has the potential to help social enterprises increase consumer awareness. Yet, successful implementation requires thorough design of the label and broad support for its promotion.
The paper offers insights into the implementation of a national label. Managers of social enterprises and social enterprise networks should consider the findings when adopting marketing activities.
Findings contribute to the sparse literature regarding marketing activities of social enterprises. The paper provides evidence that the broader social enterprise sector and its representatives in Scotland should re-evaluate their position on the introduction of a national label, given that one priority identified for the sector is to create and promote a social enterprise brand which the SE code is not focussed on.
The authors are grateful to the participants in the study for taking the time to share their views.
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