Peering into the Crystal Ball for 2008

Now that we are all relaxed after a long holiday break (except for those who have children like I do), many of us are trying to prioritize our work for the year. Here are a few of my own thoughts regarding what we will see in 2008: 

  • Increased Expectations of Companies: As consumers’ purse strings tighten, they will expect more from companies, i.e., to both give back and to provide consumers with opportunities to shop with a conscience. 
  • Substance (with Sizzle) Will Prevail: Consumers will pressure companies to support issues beyond short-term, one-off promotions and will spur backlash against companies with insincere initiatives. 
  • Demand for Information and Relevance: Consumers will continue to pose questions before deciding if a cause tie-in will impact their purchasing: 
  • What impact am I having with my purchase? 
  • Will I see the benefit directly or indirectly?  
  • How is this cause or campaign relevant to me? 
  • Is this company “walking the talk?” 
  • Alignment: Companies will support issues more closely aligned with their businesses, such as environment, economic empowerment and workforce training. They will utilize their scale, operations and assets for greater impact. 
  • Less Distinction Between Cause and Corporate Responsibility: As more companies align their philanthropy with their business needs, consumers will increasingly blur the line between a company’s responsible business practices and its support of causes. 
  • B2B Involvement: More business-to-business companies will realize they too have to support causes in a big, bold way as others beyond consumers (employees, investors, suppliers) are demanding more. 
  • Demonstrated ROI: Companies will seek (and actually commit time and money) to quantify the business and social returns on their cause-related investments. 
  • Increased Regulation: Government will provide guidelines and/or begin to regulate cause-related marketing and environmental messages and claims. 
  • Increased Interest in SRI: Socially responsible investing will become even more mainstream. 
  • More and Instantaneous Communication:   We will see more cause-related advertising, social networking and instant communication about what companies are doing and the impact they and their stakeholders are having. 

Well, these thoughts are hardly from a crystal ball, but I always find it helpful to start the year with reflection on what is to come. Happy New Year!


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