As the largest shopping season of the year, the holidays bring increased competition for eCommerce and direct-to-consumer brands. With increased sales and discounts to encourage purchases during the holiday season, today’s socially conscious consumer is looking beyond the price tag and making purchase decisions based on other factors.
Consumers are spending more time getting to know a brand and the impact that they have on society, which means that in pursuit of value-alignment, purpose-driven brands are going to come out on top. Discover the data-driven insights on how social impact can help brands stand out against the competition and predictions for the upcoming holiday season.
2020 Changed the Way Consumers and Brands Engage with Social Impact
While the holidays are a joyous time, they are also a time to help those in need— hence the season of giving. After a tumultuous year in 2020, the need for charitable good was greater than ever during the holiday season. With many people out of work and not being able to gather with their families, consumers were more conscious of how each dollar was spent and chose to support brands who were taking action to address the societal unrest of 2020.
Cause marketing was once a nice to have, but quickly turned into a need-to-have for brands of all sizes and industries as socially conscious consumers began shifting buying behavior and the competition for eCommerce and D2C brands became larger than ever before.
Between the pandemic and the racial justice protests last year, consumers began turning to brands to serve as advocates for change, and supported brands whose values aligned with their own. According to the Edelman Earned Brand study, 53% of consumers believe that brands can do more to solve societal issues than the government.
Why Should Your Brand Care About Social Impact?
Social impact is more than a trend and is here to stay. But what does that mean for your brand? And what’s the benefit for you to implement a social impact strategy? For starters, when a company leads with purpose, consumers are 72% more likely to be loyal to that company and are more likely to refer others to support that company. Amidst the pandemic in 2020, 36% of consumers actually switched brands, even despite previous brand loyalty. This means that implementing a social impact strategy can help your brand appeal to the growing population of socially conscious consumers and help create value-alignment between your brand and your customers.
Consumers are spending more time on a brand’s About Us page and getting to know a brand on a deeper level. This means that socially conscious consumers can easily identify inauthentic impact efforts and are not afraid to “cancel” brands that do not engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) or brands that do something offensive. It’s no longer enough for brands to greenwash or make statements on social media platforms about societal issues— today’s consumers want to see a brand take physical action to make a positive change.
Not only can social impact help brands increase customer loyalty and retention, but purpose-driven brands are also often more profitable than brands who do not take action to make a positive impact. Between November and December 2020, ShoppingGives’ merchant partners saw a 35% increase in average order value (AOV) on orders with donations versus without. This means that giving back is more than just good for society, it’s good for your bottom line too.
If a brand is promoting sustainability, consumers want to know the details of how that brand is holding themselves to a higher standard of sustainable business practices, and they will do their research to discover whether a brand is being genuine and truthful in their claims. With brand trust being a driving factor for customer loyalty, one-third of all consumers will stop buying their preferred products if they lose trust in a brand. Now more than ever, brands need to be engaging in authentic social impact to not only attract socially conscious consumers, but to retain them as well.
Predictions for the 2021 Holiday Season
With consumers shifting their buying preferences to shop more consciously, more consumers are going to be supporting small businesses, minority-owned businesses, and sustainable products this holiday season. After seeing the result that the pandemic had on small, local businesses, 82% of consumers are planning to spend more to support local businesses this holiday season.
Launching a social impact strategy for the holiday season can help your brand stay top-of-mind for socially conscious consumers and stand out against not only the competition for other small businesses, but against the big box stores as well. With large retailers like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy closing their doors on Thanksgiving Day, consumers who traditionally shop on Thanksgiving to kick off the Black Friday festivities will instead be pushed online, meaning the competition for these eCommerce shoppers is up for grabs.
Instead of offering your customers a discount in the race for these online shoppers, you can drive conversions by offering a charitable donation to a worthy cause. Not only will this grab the attention of socially conscious consumers, but it will also give your brand a competitive edge over the big box competition.
With many families forgoing holiday traditions last year because of the pandemic, consumers are predicted to go all out this year to make up for last year, meaning consumers more than likely will be spending more this holiday season than ever before. In fact, 1 in 3 consumers are planning to spend more this holiday season and even though brick-and-mortar stores have opened back up after the height of the pandemic, eCommerce sales are still predicted to rise 11.3% from last year.
Not only are consumers planning to spend more, but they’re planning to start their holiday shopping earlier than usual this year. With the current supply chain constraints, many consumers have already begun their holiday shopping to get ahead of the crowd and are avoiding last minute gift debacles. This creates a perfect opportunity for launching a new social impact strategy. Why? The holidays are a hectic time for brands of all sizes, and with consumers beginning their holiday shopping early, your brand can offer a soft-launch of a social impact strategy instead of a big push all at once. This also will give you time to assess how your customers will respond to your impact efforts and collect feedback on what they think.
While eCommerce is expected to grow this holiday season, brick and mortar locations are still going to see a lot of traffic as well. This means that your brand needs to be prepared to service your customers in-store and online and provide a similar experience across both channels. To create an omnichannel experience for both in-store and online customers, you can enable charitable giving for both channels so that every purchase with your brand can create a positive impact.
If your brand is on the Shopify platform, utilizing the Change Commerce app for Shopify POS enables you to easily create seamless, omnichannel giving experiences for your customers, no matter where they shop. Creating a social impact strategy that both your online and in-store customers can get involved with will help your brand not only create a bigger impact, but will also enable you to build more meaningful customer relationships.
Quick Wins to Implement a Social Impact Strategy Just in Time for the Holidays
Last year, there was a 25% increase in donations on GivingTuesday compared to 2019, resulting in $2.47 billion dollars donated. This year, the impact made on and around GivingTuesday is expected to be larger than ever, so there’s no better time than now to implement a social impact strategy for your brand. If you are new to social impact and are not sure where to start, the following strategies will help your brand implement an authentic strategy just in time for the holiday season.
Identify your brand values
The first step of implementing a solid social impact strategy is to discover what your brand cares about. The best way to get your entire company involved to create a bigger impact is to identify your brand values and ideate how you can tie those into a social impact strategy.
On a mission to provide meal programs to help their customers look and feel like their best selves, Sakara Life set out to make a bigger impact through their products. In alignment with their company values, Sakara Life supports Wellness in the Schools, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to inspiring healthy eating and fitness for kids in public schools.
Align your values with a cause
After you identify what your brand believes in, the next step is to find a cause that aligns with those values and create a strategy for supporting that cause, whether through donations, volunteer time, or both.
As long time social activists, Kenneth Cole is always quick to support social causes as they arise in real time. One of their main focuses is on destigmatizing mental health conditions in partnership with the Mental Health Coalition and supports this cause by donating 1% on every purchase from their online store.
Communicate your social impact efforts
Once you have your social impact strategy in place, it’s time to share your efforts! You can communicate your strategy to your customers using email, social media, and on-site/in-store marketing. Marketing your social impact is a great way to bring awareness to your strategy and can also be used in retargeting efforts.
Coach recently launched a giving program to support Dream It Real, a program aimed at driving social equity through educational opportunities for young people from underrepresented backgrounds and low-income communities. To promote their new giving strategy, Coach utilized email marketing to announce that Insider members would soon have access to create charitable donations with their purchase, at no extra cost to them.
To discover even more actionable tactics for implementing social impact for your brand for the upcoming holiday season, you can download the Your CSR Playbook: Power Strategies for Social Impact Success below and get a step-by-step guide to help you better connect with consumers while making a positive impact.