The consumer landscape has changed. Many people aren’t just buying a product or service, they are buying an experience. As part of that experience, they want to feel good about the purchase they are making in a way that extends beyond “This is quality at a good price.” If by doing business with you, they are making a positive impact for a worthy cause, all the better. It’s a win for them, a win for you, and a win for the cause(s) you support!
Today, giving back means more than just writing a check and/or volunteering your time. In addition to being philanthropic, giving back means treating your own employees well and fairly, and being truthful and transparent with your customers. These things are all intertwined, and failure, or the perception of failure on any of these fronts can mean trouble for your brand’s reputation.
How about Walmart, the brand that many (including me!) love to hate. Even when that company does something good, they have had enough bad press over the years that I still refuse to shop there, and I am not alone.
It is worth noting that giving back is an important brand trait for the Millennial generation, a group of consumers 80 million strong in the U.S. alone. But why else is giving back good for your brand?
You are making a difference. This is the most fundamental benefit of “giving back.” Your company is helping those in need, and potentially making it easier for your customers to help, too. People are busy. I have one organization that I volunteer my time for on a regular basis, and a handful of organizations that I support financially. Beyond that, if I make a purchase (that I would have made anyway), and part of those proceeds go to a worthy cause, I’m happy. It’s a nice kind of multi-tasking! When given a choice, I am more likely to go with a company that lets me help give back. (For example, this year I will be getting my flu shot at Walgreen’s, so I can be part of their Get a Shot, Give a Shot initiative.)
Giving back can help you tell your brand’s story. I love learning about a brand’s story, especially when part of that story is about doing good for others. Consider Life is Good. Founded by two brothers, this company has built a very successful brand around their mission of spreading the power of optimism. Life is Good donates 10% of their net profits to help kids in need. Their brand has a great voice, and a quality product. I always feel great when I shop at Life is Good! Even though I could get a t-shirt for a lower price at a big box store, it wouldn’t have the style or the smile of a Life is Good shirt!
Giving back can be great for team morale. Maybe your company offers paid time off for employees to volunteer their time, or you make matching gift donations to support causes your people care about. Maybe your team has even volunteered their time together! These are excellent ways to build team camaraderie and employee loyalty. I once had a manager write a check right in front of me to support a cause I cared deeply about. It would be difficult to express how much that meant to me.
What are your thoughts on companies giving back? Have you considered this kind of involvement for your business, or do you work for a company with a philanthropic spirit? As a consumer, do you look for purchasing opportunities where your dollar can go further to help a cause that you care about? Let us know in the comments!