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5 Ways You Can Build A More Socially-conscious Business

Posted by Sureswipe on 3 June 2019

Even small independent retailers can offer customers a reason beyond price and quality to shop with them. Shoppers aren’t just interested in your products anymore. Today’s consumer wants to know where your goods come from and they’re looking for a good reason to shop with you.

In a recent Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, over 90% of Millennials said they would switch to a brand associated with a cause and that they are “prepared to make personal sacrifices to make an impact on issues they care about.” These sacrifices include paying more for a product, sharing products rather than buying them or even taking a pay cut to work for a responsible company.

Many big corporates have made this shift, but independent retailers can leverage this opportunity as well. Your business is not only more accessible to local shoppers, but as a community member, it might be even more important for you to secure your position as a valuable member of society.  

To attract Millennials and Gen Z, your shop needs to be a place that sees itself as part of the community you sell in. You need a social conscience.


70% of Millennials are willing to pay more for a product that makes an impact on issues they care about. The consumers with the largest purchasing power may support businesses that do good, but it’s important to support a cause that makes sense to your business.



Shoppers aren’t just interested in your goods anymore – they want to know who they’re buying from, and they want a good reason to shop there.

Here is why you need to be engaging Millennials and Gen Z, and five ways to build a more socially-conscious store that people want to spend their money at:


  1. What is your ‘why’?

    An effective socially responsible mission should focus on authenticity, says John Rampton, investor, start-up enthusiast and founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar. “Half-hearted donations and charity events won’t be effective in the long-term.”

    If the aim behind your community-driven events is to boost sales, social responsibility won’t permeate your store’s culture, and shoppers will realise it’s all for show.

    “It’s important to think through how consumers will perceive the social purpose a brand is considering. Will they see the benefits as an asset? A liability? Or irrelevant to their purchase decision?” – HBR

    If the motive behind your causes and events is foot traffic, these practices never weave themselves into the fabric of your corporate culture. Everyone who works for you needs to be on board – that passion will permeate your store and positively impact your community and how they view you.

  2.   Focus on the story of your products

    At least 37% of Millennials in South Africa will buy from a business that supports a cause they believe in. According to the Student Spend Report 2019, South Africa’s Generation Z are switched on, conscious consumers.

    Sourcing from local suppliers, for example, will attract young people, who are increasingly becoming more aware of the importance of knowing what’s happening in their social, political and economic worlds.

    “Being in the know is now considered ‘cool’ and social media is driving this phenomenon,” says Flume’s Tammy Tal. “Millennials are no longer just couch activists, but are activity mobilising the masses to support the causes they believe in.”

  3.   Hire like-minded staff with a purpose

    A global study on the role of purpose in the workforce found that employees who worked with purpose stay for 20% longer in their role. They’re also 47% more likely to speak highly of you as a boss and your business as a positive work environment.

    “While the research is unclear whether an organisation’s commitment to sustainability leads to higher employee retention, it does have positive effects on employee commitment and job satisfaction,” according to HRM’s Role in Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility report.

    Social consciousness helps your business in two ways: Boosting both employee engagement and productivity.

  4.  Have a long-term plan

    Even if you start small, your independent store can have the biggest impact on your community. Even the simplest idea can make a difference, as your initiative gains momentum.

    “Consumers around the world are saying loud and clear that a brand’s social purpose is among the factors that influence purchase decisions.” – Amy Fenton, global leader, public development and sustainability, Nielsen

    You could start today by looking for harmful or damaging things you could stop doing. If your shop makes excessive paper waste for example, think of ways to reduce or recycle, instead of throwing the paper away, and then get your community involved by providing a handy recycling point for them as well.


  5.  Gain loyalty from a selective market

    According to an industry brief released by customer loyalty think tank Loyalty360, social responsibility initiatives can contribute to creating emotional bonds with customers, leading to greater brand loyalty.

    “If your store cares for your community, your community will care for your store. And when the community cares about your store, they do not haggle over price,” says Matthew Hudson. “They are loyal ambassadors for your store.”




Talk to Sureswipe about a cost-effective Loyalty programme. We can assist in customer retention through a platform that helps you communicate directly with customers through email and SMS. Call 0860 200 111 or fill in your details here and we’ll call you.



Topics: retail, strategy, tips, Growing Your Retail Business