In today’s market, consumers are more interested than ever before in purchasing from companies that give back. Retailers and brands that take this approach are seeing real results. According to Kantar’s Purpose 2020 report, brand valuation for purpose-led companies have increased 175% over the last 12 years compared to the median growth rate of 85% for companies that fell into purpose-driven categories. Those brands also show higher consumer confidence levels and customer loyalty. The main driver of this success is younger consumers. The report found that almost two-thirds of millennials and Gen Z want, “Brands that have a point of view and stand for something.”
Retailers Succeeding At Social Purpose Marketing
When you think about purpose-driven brands you may think about products like TOMS shoes with its commitment to donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, but major retail chains are also adopting more socially-conscious approaches:
- CVS: Has stopped Photoshopping beauty marketing materials to show more authentic images and promote body and image positivity. Also, back in September 2014, CVS Health received national acclaim when they became the first national retail pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products in all of its stores because it conflicted with its purpose of helping people on their path to better health.
- Patagonia: Its motto has long been “We are in business to save the planet,” consistently giving to conservation-based organizations and organizations working to stop climate change. They have also begun to openly donate to political candidates who speak up about climate change.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods: Ended sales of assault-style weapons and guns to anyone under 21 after the Parkland, FL school shooting.
- IKEA: Has committed to only selling products made from renewable and recyclable materials by 2030 and has been removing all single-use plastic products from its product lines, checkout lines and restaurants.
Practical Ways Retailers Can Promote Social Responsibility
Not all retailers are the size of a CVS, Dick’s or Ikea, but any retailer, whether they have 20 locations or 2000 locations can promote purpose. Here are just a few ways to start:
- Sell socially conscious brands: Offer socially-conscious customers options to buy brands with a reputation for social consciousness like Tom’s or Newman’s Own.
- Participate in giving events: Allow customers to donate or round up purchases for a local or national charity or participate in events like Giving Tuesday, which is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The movement is largely fueled by social media with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. You can also actively participate in things like Breast Cancer Awareness month or Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, etc. The key for every brand is to choose causes and events that align with the company’s overall purpose, otherwise it can be viewed as being inauthentic.
- Promote ethically and sustainably sourced products: If sustainability or ethically-sourced and produced products are important to your customers (look to your data to determine this), be sure you are offering products that align with those priorities.
- Sponsor local charitable events: Choose events that align with your corporate mission or that are important to your employees and/or customers. Become known as an ongoing, annual sponsor.
Any purpose-driven initiative should be marketed well so that customers and potential customers know what you’re doing and over time, you become known for that particular mission, charity or purpose. Promote activities both online and offline and make sure to celebrate and share the results of any events or donation drives you participate in, thanking your customers for making it possible.
Purpose Must Be Authentic
According to a recent Nielsen survey, a staggering 92% of consumers say they are more likely to trust information about a brand when it comes from earned media or an unpaid social influencer recommendation as opposed to marketing in the form of a paid celebrity endorsement or traditional ad. Just saying you stand for something isn’t enough. It must become part of the brand, so much so that media outlets and influencers associate the retailer with that cause.
For cause marketing and social purpose marketing to generate results, it should be an extension of the organizational culture and it must be leveraged to build real connections with customers. The best way to do this is to choose causes that align with the current brand image.
An Effective Strategy is an Aligned Strategy
Clothing retailers often sponsor charities that provide clothes to the homeless or organizations like Dress for Success that provide business clothing to women to help them find a job, for example. Home improvement stores often partner with Habitat For Humanity. Petco developed its own charity for homeless animals, TOMS provides shoes to the less fortunate, Warby Parker donates glasses, etc.
Social purpose marketing can have a real impact on loyalty but only if it is authentic and aligns with customer preferences. Leverage customer data to understand the causes and issues that are important to them and then build a clear and effective marketing strategy. Talk to Lift361 today to learn how your brand can effectively leverage giving back.