As we head into the holiday season and the flurry of Black Friday sales, many brands are focused on maximizing their end-of-year profits and drawing in consumers by offering major discounts to the anticipated 180 million people who will shop online or in-store over Thanksgiving weekend alone.
But a number of brands are standing out and differentiating themselves from the pack by adopting a different approach, by appealing to a more loyal segment of consumers who seek to support companies that align more deeply with their values and give back to society as a whole.
CorpSumers™ are a highly influential and growing segment of consumers whose values are the driver of their purchasing decisions. CorpSumers care more about corporate reputation and social impact than the features and benefits of the products. And an overwhelming 93% of CorpSumers are more likely to purchase their holiday gifts from companies that have a clear ethos and take a stance on social issues.
Following our second annual CorpSumer study released last month, MWWPR and Wakefield Research also conducted a national survey on holiday shopping plans which shows that during the festive season, CorpSumers’ buying habits are still motivated by their perception of core company principles, rather than price. Over 3 in 4 (76%) US CorpSumers will decide where they spend their money on gifts based on whether the company has similar values to themselves.
True Doing Good Drives Loyalty
But for these socially-conscious consumers, making a one-off donation at the cash register in December is not enough, and a company’s stance on societal issues is a greater consideration than discounts and deals. Our previous research shows that CorpSumers can easily spot attempts at “goodwashing” and will not be impressed by companies who make half-hearted attempts at showing purpose. It is the brands with intentional purpose and shared values that will win with CorpSumers this holiday season.
For the CorpSumer, a company needs to consistently and authentically demonstrate its commitment to its values over time. As we previously highlighted, companies like Patagonia have been a longstanding proponent of environmental causes, which has truly elevated and differentiated their brand. In 2016 the consumer response to their campaign pledging to donate all profits from their Black Friday sales exceeded expectations, generating $10 million for environmental causes – and five times the amount they anticipated. The impact of embedding this purpose at the core of their brand has been lasting, and Patagonia has distinguished itself as a steward of the environment through a series of bold actions, including donating 1% of its daily global sales to green causes, protesting the selling off of national monuments, and promoting the incorporation of recycled materials in its clothing line.
Similarly, Everlane has garnered praise for their campaign to donate $13 to support beach cleanups across the United States for every customer order placed on Black Friday. The environmentally-conscious brand has long been committed to reducing plastic waste, also demonstrated by their public pledge to remove all new plastic from their supply chain by 2021, and the simultaneous launch of their “ReNew” clothing line made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Each $13 donation will support the removal of 1lb. of plastic waste from a beach, and the brand aims to raise enough to prevent 20,000 pounds of garbage from entering the ocean. Everlane’s devotion to its purpose is so deep, it is literally writ large in window display of its New York flagship store that features an array of reclaimed plastic bottles.
Companies that close their doors on key national holidays also have the power to positively influence the spending decisions of CorpSumers, with 97% being more interested in purchasing from a company that enables employees to spend time with their friends or family.
REI, the outdoor retailer, has made taking this stance a major part of its brand identity by choosing to remain closed on Black Friday since 2015, giving its 12,000 employees a paid day off, and urging everyone to #OptOutside with a thought-provoking social media campaign. In 2018, not only will every one of its 153 physical stores will be closed, but the REI website will also go dark.
While closing on the biggest shopping day of the year may appear counterintuitive, for REI this stance completely aligns with the ethos of a company which points out that in any given year, 150 million Americans don’t spend any time outdoors, but instead spend the majority of their time inside staring at screens. So by encouraging people to get out and enjoy nature in our national parks, the company is staying true to its principles and its reason for being, with considerable success. In 2017, more than 1.4 million people and 170 organizations chose to participate in the #OptOutside campaign.
While these initiatives may seem like the opposite of bolstering profits at the most critical time of year, these companies know that their actions resonate beyond just differentiating their brand from the pack and receiving positive PR. By continually expounding their deeply-held values and encouraging their consumers to join them as activists and champions for shared causes, brands will be rewarded with the ultimate year-round gift of CorpSumer loyalty.