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The Rise of the Smart Consumer: Is Spending With a Sustained Purpose the New Trend?


The role of social purpose in consumer spending has increased as more people are willing to buy from a meaningful brand; a brand with purpose measures the impact of your buying power. Why are people becoming now more aware?

Consumers are connected to the social issues that affect their everyday life such as health care, education, clean water, and healthy food. A responsible economy is needed and consumers are both listening and responding in kind.

There are some questions that a smart consumer may want to think about. Does the company give back to the community? Are they making steps toward reducing their energy use? Is the product made from recycled material or can the packaging be recycled? Better yet, is it made from minimal packaging or can it be composted?

Businesses can take advantage of this smart trend as they think about what sustainability can mean to improve their bottom line. It is a self-sustaining strategy for a brand to be a brand in action.

79% of consumers are more willing to buy from a brand with a purpose

Teach for America Corps is a program started by Apple that places recent college graduates in teaching positions for two years at low-income schools. Customers can also donate i-pads to the cause. Verizon also offers a charitable take back program called Hopeline that donates old phones to domestic violence victims.

It is more than a short term marketing tactic to be a purpose-driven brand. It builds trust and commitment with consumers as they remember these socially responsible choices and will want to buy from these brands time and time again.

Kohl’s department store ranked number 1 on the EPA Green Power Partnership list in the retail sector for use of renewable energy. They also use green cleaning services in all of their retail stores to improve air quality for customers and their associates.

47% of consumers want companies to be more transparent about how their products are made and sourced

Nike introduced its flyknit technology in 2012 to create a better performing shoe that contours to the foot. The shoe features a one-piece upper that is made of woven yarn. Every single strand has a purpose. This precise engineering eliminates the need for multiple materials, cuts, and glue producing 80% less waste than traditional manufacturing. Nike, along with Adidas, use recycled polyester/plastic bottles in their apparel lines.

In fact, Adidas was listed as one of the top 10 most sustainable companies in the world for 2014. It is stated on their Sustainability Strategy page that consumers increasingly expect brands to go beyond just considering social and environmental issues. They want companies to be the top leaders in making a true difference in the world.

The results from the Meaningful Brands framework demonstrated brands that are meaningful outperform the stock market by 120%

These enterprises prove that it is possible to make profits while advancing the wellbeing of society and the environment.

As the internet has opened up new networks of communication, in a world where society needs constant engagement, companies can let the consumer tell the story of the brand. Social media can help “get the word out” and nurture engagement as they bring consumers inside the organization to make an impact.

71% of consumers would help promote a brand if they support a good cause

It’s about celebrating other people’s lives. Research has shown that giving to worthy causes stimulate dopamine in the brain that makes us feel euphoric. This sharing movement has seen charitable contributions skyrocket on social media using 140 characters or less.

Buying consciously isn’t just about engaging in acts that benefit others. There is self-interest involved as you try to avoid chemicals that can be potential carcinogens. It can also be a way to know what’s in your food by reading labels and keeping your home free of toxins, all while making affordable purchases.

Check out the Goodguide website that rates consumer products on health, environment, and social responsibility. They even have a Goodguide app that lets you scan the product’s barcode while you’re out shopping.

This rise in brand engagement may be because that’s what people want. They feel they are the ones that will create change. There is an expansion of citizens getting involved in occupying consumers. This allows people to take consensus-based, direct action to empower themselves and others to make purchases from sustainable brands that have a social interest in the people and a social responsibility towards the planet.

So can businesses continue to nurture this movement by joining forces with consumers in this sharing revolution? The answer is a big astounding yes!




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