The Rise of the Values-Driven Marketplace – Power of the Consumer

So why are cause branding, strategic and focused philanthropy and corporate responsibility so important these days???

For a very long time, governments have been the primary regulator of corporations and social issues (at least they’ve tried to be around issues). As long as companies “played by the rules” as defined by laws and regulations, and if they provided, at a good price, quality products or services that met the demands of the rational consumer, business was successful and profitable. That just isn’t the case today. One of the reasons the market is different today is because the regulator of companies has shifted from governments and institutions to individuals and consumers.

Today, governments struggle how best to regulate: (a) multi-national companies; (b) products and brands that speak to the international marketplace and community of people; and (c) social issues facing our global society that stretch beyond the borders of any one country.

So what is the primary regulator today? – The Marketplace! In other words, every one of us is more powerful today than ever before because every decision and action we make impacts the marketplace. 

So what’s the big deal, right?

The big deal is that we don’t check our personal values at the door when making decisions, whether it’s what kind of car I want to drive to what clothes I wear, to what I want to feed my kids. In fact, personal values are such an important variable in procurement decisions that companies have recognized that marketing a product or service on the rational terms of quality, feature and price are not enough anymore.  These rational components are key because without high quality or features that meet the demands of a discerning consumer, business is destined for failure. 

Today companies recognize that consumers value Values, Corporate Values and frankly, consumers want to know what a company, that make the product or provides the service, stands for. This has helped lead to the increased growth and evolution of companies to cause branding, philanthropy and corporate responsibility strategies, communications and marketing. More than ever before, it’s also driven companies and brands to build emotion into their marketing, communications and “go to market” strategies.

The other element to this dynamic is that companies are creating strong, sustainable relationships with NGOs and nonprofits. The companies are providing resources, talent, etc. to support the development and implementation of solutions to global social issues, but NGOs are truly these solutions providers. The nonprofit community plays an extremely important role in today’s marketplace because its core competencies are in doing the work to improve the lives of people, places and things around the world. Nonprofits are pivotal partners for corporations that choose to demonstrate their values to consumers through community and people impact, social investments and/or environmental improvement.

--Jeff Terry, Former Vice President