In today’s retail world, customer empowerment is undeniable. Technology has placed a limitless amount of immediate information and purchasing options into customers’ hands. Customers are now exceptionally choosy about where they shop and what they buy.
And so, customers are more likely to purchase when they know their dollars are going to socially responsible companies and good causes. According to a 2015 Cone Communications Study, “90% of consumers will be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues, while 88% will be more loyal.”
Businesses are obviously paying attention, since corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are becoming progressively important topics when thinking about business strategies. Retailers are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate social responsibility into their practices as well as to link ethical products to their brand identities. When exploring social responsibility opportunities, retailers should consider these four main categories.
With the rise of urbanization, retailers are beginning to move into smaller footprints within neighborhoods, so it makes sense that they start in the places they directly affect.
Whether giving to schools, donating necessities to local shelters, or organizing employee volunteer days, contributing to and supporting the local community builds strong relationships, deep connections, and overall trust with the neighbors and customers who shop in their stores.
With many communities banning plastic bags and shoppers buying organic and sustainable products, retailers are taking action to decrease their carbon footprint.
Reducing excess materials and waste, decreasing resource use such as water and power, offering local products to cut down on shipping impacts benefit both the environment and the retailer. Becoming more sustainable and environmentally conscious not only improves brand perception, but it generates efficiency and saves retailers unnecessary costs.
customers are more likely to purchase when they know their dollars are going to socially responsible companies and good causes
With so much access to information, smart, always-connected customers are becoming more aware of where and how a good is made, and they are considering the ethical impact of their purchasing decisions. The Cone Communications Study reports “Eighty-four percent of consumers globally say they seek out responsible products whenever possible, though eight-in-10 (81%) cite availability of these products as the largest barrier to not purchasing more.”
Therefore, offering responsible goods is an opportunity for retailers to stand out from competitors. By providing more products that use fair-trade practices, are humanely produced, and are made from sustainable or recycled materials, retailers can satisfy customer demand, drive more traffic and return purchases, and increase brand strength.
Customers want to expect good about their purchases, and want to support a brand that connects with them on a human level.
Charitable giving and non-profit partnerships are powerful ways to reach the emotionally driven customer. Partnering with customers’ favorite charities enhances the brand’s credibility and reputation. It increases media attention as well as customer-to-customer social sharing. In addition, philanthropy is an opportunity to increase employee engagement. Through volunteer opportunities, fundraising events, and donation-matching, employees heel more connected to the company.
Shoppers are now putting a value on a brand’s level of thoughtfulness and concern for making a difference. Ultimately, people want to do business with a brand they respect. A retailer that gives back not only benefits the communities and customers it serves, but also its bottom line.
What social responsible effort is your brand making? How are your customers reacting?