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!