Year over year socially conscious consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on their values, even during recent unfavorable economic conditions. This sentiment is further amplified by the holiday season when consumers are looking to stretch their dollars for a good cause.
While the holiday season is notoriously known for sales and discounts, offering more meaningful purchase incentives like charitable donations can better position your brand to stand out against the competition. Having an impact-foused holiday strategy not only fosters goodwill but also aligns with shifting consumer preferences and trends.
2023 Consumer Spending Trends
Understanding the trends and behaviors of socially conscious consumers is vital for businesses aiming to make the most of the upcoming holiday season.
Factors such as cost, convenience, and value have historically driven shopping behavior, but following the global pandemic, those factors have now shifted. A recent study conducted by IBM found that “purpose-driven customers,” or those who choose both products and brands based on value alignment, now represent the largest segment (44%) of global consumers across all major product categories.
Additionally, the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 63% of people buy or advocate for brands based on beliefs and values. This means that simply offering the best deals or lower prices this holiday season isn’t the only way to win the attention of the population of purpose-driven consumers.
A Look Back on Giving Trends from the 2022 Holiday Season
While sales and donations were predicted to take a hit in 2022 due to unfavorable economic conditions, businesses and nonprofits alike still managed to drive incredible performance during Q4. Despite increased inflation and growing interest rates in 2022, the National Retail Federation reported that retail sales grew 5.3% during the 2022 November-December holiday season compared to 2021. Additionally, Charityvest saw its highest volume of GivingTuesday donations ever in 2022, counter to predictions in the charitable giving market.
As consumers tighten their wallets and businesses pull back on budget, it may be surprising that charitable giving managed to grow in a year marked by economic uncertainty. However, charitable giving often experiences an increase during unfavorable times.
Challenging periods, such as economic downturns or natural disasters, tend to amplify the sense of empathy and solidarity within communities and societies. The heightened awareness of shared vulnerability fosters a sense of responsibility and compassion, motivating individuals and organizations to contribute to charitable causes.
Examples of How Businesses Gave Back During the 2022 Holiday Season
During Q4 2022, consumers shopped in record numbers and retailers delivered positive holiday experiences to consumers wary of inflation, offering great products at more promotional price levels to fit their stretched budgets. Not only did retailers seem to be offering increased promotions, but they also emphasized charitable giving more than ever before.
Following the 2022 holiday season, ShoppingGives conducted an analysis of our merchant partners to identify the specific social impact trends that they participated in. This data analyzed 1000 retailers, featuring the top 500 internet retailers and the top 500 direct-to-consumer retailers.
The analysis found that an increased number of merchants included impact-focused messaging on their website homepage around GivingTuesday to promote their charitable giving initiatives. Around GivingTuesday 2022, merchants increasingly included information about their giving strategy on their homepage, such as the names of nonprofit organizations being supported and the donation amount that would be generated on every purchase.
Donation Activation Analysis
In addition to an increase in merchants using their websites to promote their charitable giving initiatives, ShoppingGives also found that merchants changed the way they gave back compared to 2021.
For example, in 2022, there was a 145% increase in the number of merchants who explicitly pledged to donate a percentage of purchases as part of their GivingTuesday promotions. Additionally, there was a 333% increase in the number of merchants who offered either customer round-up or add-on donation functionality, compared to 2021.
For merchants who enabled their customers to create their own donations on purchases, ShoppingGives’ analysis found that there was a 50% increase in the number of merchants who offered a matching donation incentive to customers on GivingTuesday compared to 2021.
By enabling charitable giving and showcasing a brand’s social impact initiatives on their website, the brand can build trust and forge deeper connections with their customer base, as consumers are more likely to support businesses that share their values. Additionally, this tactic can help motivate socially conscious consumers to make a purchase, knowing that their purchase is supporting a charitable cause.
GivingTuesday Campaign Brand Examples
Christy Sports increased their evergreen donation amount from 1% to 10% on GivingTuesday in support of the Food Bank of the Rockies. They promoted their holiday giving campaign on their website homepage leading up to GivingTuesday.
Esker Beauty increased their evergreen donation amount from 5% to 25% on GivingTuesday on every purchase of a Protect Pollinator Set. Esker Beauty shared this announcement on their social media channels to inform customers that their purchase had the power to give back to the Xerces Society.
Grown Alchemist donated 20% of sales on GivingTuesday towards Cool Earth. Using social media, Grown Alchemist educated their customers about how donations towards Cool Earth would help them further their mission to fund projects that protect the rainforest.
MiiR donated 100% of all online sales on Small Business Saturday and the following Sunday to three nonprofit organizations. MiiR informed their social media followers that by placing an order, they would help support organizations like Bean Voyage, Conservation Lands Foundation, and National Young Farmers Coalition.
How to Implement a Charitable Giving Strategy for the 2023 Holiday Season
In the spirit of the season of giving, it’s pivotal that businesses get involved in charitable giving initiatives, and here’s some examples of why:
- Enhanced Brand Reputation: Giving back is a powerful way to boost your brand's reputation. Positive public perception can lead to increased customer loyalty and sales.
- Meeting Consumer Expectations: Consumers are increasingly expecting businesses to be socially responsible and by giving back, your business aligns with these expectations and demonstrates a commitment to making a positive impact on society.
- Differentiation: In a competitive market, businesses are constantly seeking ways to stand out. Charitable giving sets you apart from competitors and gives consumers a reason to choose your products or services over others.
Ways Your Business Can Give Back
Here are some tactical strategies your business can implement to enable a charitable giving strategy this holiday season. Note these tactics can be combined and mixed and matched to create a strategy that’s flexible to the social impact needs of your business at any time.
Choose Relevant Causes
Select causes that resonate with your brand and customer base. For example, if your brand is committed to sustainability, supporting a sustainability-focused nonprofit would be a good fit.
If you don’t have a specific cause pillar that resonates with your brand, give your customers the opportunity to show you which causes matter most to them. Learn how your business can take a data-driven approach to determine which causes your customers care about.
Direct-Response Fundraising and Cause Awareness Dates
Brands and consumers alike have cause affinities that align with their evergreen values, but as societal issues quickly arise into national headlines, priorities shift. For merchants looking to make an impact for causes that arise in real-time, getting involved in direct response fundraising may be a good fit.
Events like the Hamas attack on Israel, the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the wildfires in Hawaii, and cause awareness dates like Breast Cancer Awareness Month are all examples of times when societal needs shift and brands and consumers alike can come together to support a pressing cause.
To create a lasting impact, businesses can form a partnership with a nonprofit organization to create an evergreen giving strategy. Consumers are more likely to trust a brand’s social impact initiatives if they feel the brand is being genuine in their efforts. By aligning your brand with a specific cause or nonprofit, you can demonstrate your authentic and long-lasting commitment to the cause.
Store Donations and Customer Donations
When determining your holiday giving strategy, we recommend demonstrating your commitment to a cause by donating either a percentage of sales or a flat dollar amount per purchase, either online, in-store, or both. To maximize your impact, you can invite your customers to contribute their own donation on their purchase through either Customer Round-Up Donations or Customer Add-on Donations.
Get Started on Your 2023 Holiday Giving Strategy
The 2023 holiday season is not just an opportunity for businesses to maximize profits—it's a chance to make a meaningful impact on society. By embracing charitable giving, eCommerce businesses, direct-to-consumer brands, and retailers can enhance their brand reputation, meet consumer expectations, and stand out in a competitive market.
Moreover, with consumer spending trends leaning towards purposeful purchases and predictions for a dynamic retail landscape, there's never been a better time for businesses to give back. So, this holiday season, consider the impact your business can make by supporting the causes that matter most to you and your customers.
Get a deeper look at the trends and behaviors of socially conscious consumers to ensure your business is prepared in time for the holiday season by downloading the full 2023 State of Social Impact Report below.
For more tactical recommendations on how your business can implement a holiday giving strategy, check out our 2023 Holiday Guide for Giving and Brand Growth.