87% of Americans would purchase a product because that company stood up for or advocated for an issue they care about according to the 2017 CONE Communications CSR Study. You don’t need to be a statistician to realize the signi cance in this number. We are all familiar with popularized brands like Warby Parker and Tom Shoes, but two mainstream companies will not sustain socially conscious consumers. Good news as hundreds of brands are responding to this purpose rst movement, pledging to commit their pro ts and marketing dollars to promoting social good. Companies like Twice as Warm, Fair Anita, WeWood, Kutoa and WeWork are all doing their part to sustain underserved communities and ultimately create a pro table model to give more back to these causes they support. The pro t and purpose movement is here to stay.
As Ayelet No so eloquently stated in her Forbes article, When it Comes to Doing Good, Brands Need to Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is,
”...Trying to take advantage of an emergency or social struggle for your own bene t will never produce the results you desire. However, if brands relate to their users and the wider community the same way they would to their own friends or neighbors, they stand to build a truly meaningful relationship.”
Brands cannot just jump on a current social bandwagon. Your consumers are too smart. Not only can this be an expensive mistake for a brand, it is a PR nightmare and will result in the opposite of generating loyalty. Rather, companies and brands need to be authentic and true to who they are and what their key stakeholders care about. And for goodness sake, don’t fake being good. Few things are worse than people or brands who “pretend like they care” when it is clearly a ploy. As a result in this shift to a greater purpose led economy, the question quickly becomes:
How do long-standing corporations and brands lead this movement?
In order to address this question, this paper will:
1. Take you through a brief history of giving
2. Discuss the next generation of consumers
3. Inspire ideas to incorporate philanthropy into your business (whether you are celebrating 100 years or just opened your doors yesterday)
A Brief History of Giving
The term philanthropy is rooted in the Greek word “philanthropia” meaning the love of mankind. Beginning with the earliest civilizations, giving has always been integral in building global communities. Woven into the DNA of all people regardless of culture, religion, or gender, philanthropy in its current state is de ned as “the practice of organized and systematic giving to improve the quality of human life through the promotion of welfare and social change (National Philanthropic Trust)”.
Of course, philanthropy in the U.S. and across the globe has changed signi cantly through the years – morphing mainly due to shifts in political control, war and social issues. For instance, times of war and revolution across the world created a chaotic, yet necessary focus on improving the quality of human life between 1750-1890. Philanthropic support adjusted accordingly. Events such as World War II, civil and human rights movements, and women’s rights all contributed greatly to the requirements of organizations and private sector giving during the mid-twentieth century. As our world continues to change, the landscape of individuals, public and private sector businesses and support organizations have expanded with advancements in digital and technological solutions. Today, we have the ability to give to organizations anywhere in the world with less than three clicks of our mouse.
Corporations Respond to New Philanthropy Laws
It wasn’t until 1935 that corporations were allowed to deduct charitable contributions. Naturally, philanthropic individuals soon realized their organization could leverage pro ts to participate in social good without harming their business. Corporate giving is now a $18 billion+ industry (Giving USA 2016). Many of the largest companies have a Corporate Social Responsibility division and work to support causes important to their overall business purpose. But, the story doesn’t end here.
As we have transitioned into the current day, individuals want more freedom to take part
in and support philanthropic initiatives led by corporations. We care about working for and buying from brands who also give back in unique and personal ways to us – especially the younger generations. According to Allison + Partners 2017 Report, 44% of consumers share information about a brand’s cause partnership or activities if the cause was something they really cared about. With this shift in consumer preference and desire for brands to be socially responsible, a new type of business has emerged in the last ten years, B Corps. B Corporation’s use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Today, over 2,000 businesses are proudly certi ed. Philanthropic models will continue to advance just as consumer preferences do. Understanding the root of philanthropy and social impact will help you better understand ways to inspire loyalty among your own consumers and leverage social good to drive greater pro tability and impact. Next, we will talk about how the youngest generation of consumers, Gen Z, is already creating a tidal wave with their new consumer behaviors.
“Wealth is not new. Neither is charity. But the idea of using private wealth imaginatively, constructively, and systematically to attack the fundamental problems of mankind is new”
– John Gardner
Generational Shift in Giving
Giving and generosity are innate human behaviors – not generational trends. All people care about purpose in their lives, but it wasn’t until the Millennials showed up when this aspect started appearing in every element of their behaviors – from work to working out. With Millennials leading the way, and now taking on leadership roles in organizations, the next generation has come to expect a society where purpose leads. This next generation is called Gen Z, and by the way, they plan to change the world. In a National Survey led by Gen Z Guru, “93% of Gen Z participants said that a company’s impact on society a ects their decision to work there.” This isn’t just the majority folks, it is almost all of them. In order to help this passionate and driven generation achieve these goals, we need to support them in all the ways we interact with them – speci cally as employees and customers.
As businesses continue to meet Gen Z consumers, here are ve tips to keep in mind:
1. Google Your Brand.
2. Feed their Sweet Tooth.
3. Don’t Pretend like You know them.
4. Know their In uencers.
5. New Dogs Could Care less about Old Tricks.
1. Google Your Brand
This tech-dependent generation has already familiarized themselves with your brand before they step into your store or buy something from your company. If your consumer knows more than the store personnel and customer support teams they are interacting with, it won’t go well. Make sure your employees know what is shared about your company online and how your business is being promoted.
As an article by Fitch states, “They’re as socially-conscious as they are brand-conscious; they’ve Googled what your brand’s about before leaving home – and browse a scrapbook of wants and ideas as they peruse your shelves, all the while getting real-time feedback from friends.”
2. Feed Their Sweet Tooth
As David and Jonah Stillman address in their book Gen Z at Work, Gen Z is the FOMO generation. Don’t let them miss out on anything that is happening with your brand. Even better, create experiences that they could not stand just hearing about from their friends. Their attention span is short, but their social in uence is expansive.
The Gen Z Guru National study found that “44 percent of Gen Z checks in on social media at least hourly, with 7 percent checking in more often than every fteen minutes. Interestingly, 1 in 5 Gen Zers spends more time refreshing their Twitter feed than even reading it.”
3. Don’t Pretend Like You Know Them
How do you begin to suggest the causes they care about? You simply can’t. This generation is more diverse than their predecessors and they all have causes that are important to them as individuals. Build loyalty by creating personalized touch points like choice in giving.
“About 60 million members of Gen Z reside in the U.S., a million more than millennials, according to demographic data rm Social Explorer researcher Susan Weber, and their ranks are diverse: 55% of Generation Z members nationwide are non-Hispanic Caucasians, 24% are Hispanic, 14% are African-American, 4% are Asian, and 4% are multiracial or other, according to marketing consultancy Frank N. Magid Associates.” - RetailDrive
4. Know Their In uencers
Who loves your brand? Who has a strong followership on social media who also loves your brand? Get to know your in uencers because Gen Z cares about what others say about you.
Shelley E. Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at store analytics rm RetailNext shares, ”Gen Z’s celebrities are not blockbuster celebrities. It’s the YouTube guy who recon gures toys, or a beauty makeup artist,” she explained. “We’ve gone from blockbuster celebrities to unlikely role models. A lot of companies need to make sure they’re using social media channels and YouTube. That’s how [Gen Z] nds answers to something — they go to YouTube.”
5. New Dogs Could Care Less About Old Tricks
The model to drive loyalty is constantly evolving. What might have worked for consumers in 1990 will not work today. People are di erent, the world is di erent, preferences are di erent. See the trend? Even in generations that are so close in age, we need to meet them where they are.
“Research showed that while Millennials did view companies with strong environmental programs more positively, they weren’t likely to pay more for sustainable products or to shop these businesses for this reason alone. But among the younger kids, a di erent trend unfolded, one that ultimately o ers a whole di erent set of challenges to merchants and marketers. This cohort was more focused on what they could do to improve the environment versus what was in it for them.” –WWD
DoTopia’s Role in Giving
As this paper has revealed, giving is a major part of the equation in helping both organizations and individuals achieve their purpose. To give, companies must be pro table. On the contrary, non-pro t organizations require nancial support to continue to do good work in the communities they care about. Thankfully, we live in a world today where it is no longer taboo for organizations to support causes and talk about their involvement. In fact, giving is often embedded in the DNA of so many of the world’s largest corporations. The landscape continues to evolve and business will continue to reap more nancial bene ts by choosing to lead with generosity and purpose.
The time is ripe to explore how your corporate marketing and social responsibility teams, alongside non-pro ts, can play in the sandbox together. In a charged political climate where our nation is truly divided, personalized cause marketing is a solution allowing all people to give time and resources to organizations that matter to them. While individual purpose seeking is often ongoing, we all have the desire to look beyond ourselves and into bigger issues within our society.
In The book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, it is stated that “generosity is not only a natural outgrowth of compassion, but it is associated with better health and longer life-expectancy. Compassion and generosity are at the center of our humanity, bringing purpose, meaning and joy to our lives.” It makes sense that individual giving is a $280 billion dollar industry. Clearly, individuals have the propensity and want to contribute. Not only does giving have psychological bene ts for both the giver and receiver, we know giving is good for the world. Providing a philanthropic experience for your consumers, even if it is small, will create loyalty for your brand unlike traditional, more transactional models.
Get Started Today!
DoTopia is a technology solution that enhances traditional philanthropic initiatives in a personalized, purpose driven world. Inspiring pro social giving experiences for consumers, PhilanthroMarketingTM, is ready to work for your corporation or brand. Regardless of your industry, consumer pro les, political charge, or cultural di erences, individual choice in giving makes sense for all organizations and brands.