Social Impact is more than just a catchphrase we hear bandied about on special days observed by the United Nations.
Social impact is also no longer confined to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), non-profit organisations (NPOs) or even basic corporate social investment (CSI) campaigns.
While local South African social impact legends such as David Grier, Chris Bertish and others achieve amazing feats to highlight causes, usually with modest backing from the corporate sector, even these types of campaigns are no longer enough for a brand to survive the future.
Corporate backing of any noble cause is admirable and indeed, encouraged.
However, it is no longer enough to simply ‘make a statement’ as a big brand if you want Generation Z (Gen Z) to pay attention.
Gen Z, commonly referred to as ‘Millennials’ are forecasted to make up over 40% of the consumer market with the next 18 months.
Why should this matter?
Gen Z have changed the landscape of consumer social impact and with it brand engagement.
Gen Z consider the citizens of the world responsible for the global problems we face; not NGOs or NPOs.
Being a responsible citizen today means buying responsibly, supporting companies that trade responsibly – in short being a responsible consumer.
In fact, a millennial is less interested in a company that donates a percentage of its profits to a cause than in one that practices fair trade.
Contributing holistically to the greater good of the community and/or world is what counts.
The ‘Me’ Generation
Millennials are often slated for being narcistic and referred to as the ‘Me generation’ as they love to document their lives online via social media.
‘Instagram influencer’ is now viewed as a desirable vocation by some.
This is a brand’s future market, however, and the incredible thing about social media is that while ‘fake news’ is often highlighted in the media, real news is way easier to digest and spread.
Social impact for brands needs to move beyond ticking a box or beyond a short-term campaign to simply promote a product.
Circa 2019, social impact is about fair trade, good business practice and caring about the communities a brand makes its profits off.
A millennial will proudly support your product and share this with the world if they feel it identifies with their ethos.
It starts with a brand taking real meaningful steps to become a socially conscious enterprise.
This is not just good for the future survival of a brand and its future market.
It is also good for the well-being of the earth and the citizens it employs as well as its customers.
The second step is to shift some of that tight marketing budget from selling benefits of a product to the consumer to the benefits a product or a brand offers to the citizens of the world, community or earth itself.
This is where good story telling and content marketing in the social impact space becomes important.
If your brand or company is doing something meaningful, that story needs to be told and it needs to be engaged with and supported by the next generation of consumers.
Social Impact: In summary
Here are four meaningful take-outs from this article.
These will help you to engage better with Gen Z and future markets in a world that is fast demanding conscious consumerism on all levels.
- Integrate cause into your business model
- Invite consumers to volunteer alongside you
- Give consumers a way to see the impact of their purchase
- Enroll brand ambassadors for your cause
Establish a clear social message and invite your customers to be a part of your story and your brand will reap the rewards.
Besides being good for your brand, good social impact business practices are good for everybody!