Corporate philanthropy has been around for ages. Any good business owner or executive knows it is in the best interest of their company to give back through monetary and/or service donations. Whether it’s for financial purposes or simply for the greater good of the communities an organization serves, it’s a proven business strategy.
Depending on the size of a business, donations typically range from the sponsorship of a local little league team or hosting a food drive, to multi-million-dollar pledges, to national nonprofit organizations for facility naming rights. However, simply making donations to social causes is no longer enough. Consumers are demanding more from the organizations they do business with because they see it as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
In 2019, the Millennial Generation (birth years 1981-1996) took over as the largest, quickly becoming the generation with the most purchasing power. Over the last couple of years, Generation Z (birth years 1997-2012) made a dramatic entrance into the consumer realm. Generation Z is now the most influential on other generations when it comes to purchasing.
While there are many differences between these generations, they do share one thing in common: the expectation of businesses to take a stand, do the right thing, and work to solve political and societal issues. Both generations became adults during times of severe economic uncertainty and sweeping pushes for societal change worldwide. It is no wonder that they expect major corporations to exert their influence and walk the talk on behalf of their consumers.
Belief-driven purchasing saw an exponential rise beginning in 2018 as the Millennial generation surpassed Baby Boomers, not only in number, but in purchasing power. Both Millennials and Gen Z place an extremely high value on a company’s CSR strategy. 90% of American consumers boycott brands for bad business practices, 70% of customers will recommend a brand that supports a good cause, and 63% of global consumers buy goods and services from companies that reflect their values and beliefs. It is essential for any business to go beyond traditional cause-related marketing efforts and incorporate purpose-driven marketing into their strategic plans.
While cause-related marketing still has a place, it should be part of a much bigger picture. Think of it more as a tactic to become a purpose-driven brand than the entirety of your CSR plan. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips on how to get started:
1) Determine the larger role you want to play in your consumer’s lives
2) Find a cause that aligns with your brand
3) Engage with your customer on a deeper level
4) Be authentic!
Whether you’re a small business or a national corporation, the new generations of consumers expect your company to stand for something in exchange for their loyalty. Take some time to determine what issues are important to your consumer, your staff, and your leadership and then look for ways to weave support for them into your company culture. It’s a win-win for all.
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