Consumers increasingly are looking for companies to help make their communities and the world a better place. And they’re not just focused on environmental issues. Social responsibility, which can include philanthropy, ethical business practices and economic development, is getting more attention from consumers… and might even be rivaling environmental responsibility expectations.
- 82% of 2023 IHA Market Watch Report respondents said it’s important for brands to provide favorable working conditions – the top-ranked responsibility issue. It was followed by sustainable products—70%, environmental stewardship—66%, diversity and inclusion—65%, charitable initiatives—58%, and social activism—43%.
- 80% of consumers in the 2023 Value Index from Springboard Futures said social responsibility is important when considering a home and housewares brand or retailers from which to buy. And 88% said the same about environmental responsibility.
- 7 of 10 people in the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer said they want their job to bring social impact.
Some say the increased attention on social responsibility may have some roots in the sense of community—even global community— created during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a time for many new grassroots initiatives based on supporting your neighbors and those in need—and they received a lot of attention as people were home and consuming more information.
In addition, consumers used to focus more on overseas production issues like fair labor and fair trade, but their frame of reference has expanded to include company offices, other social causes, and very local issues, says Tom Mirabile, principal and founder of Springboard Futures, and IHA’s trend expert.
No question it’s a difficult economic environment right now, but that also means there’s more community need than ever. So there’s no shortage of opportunities to make a difference.
It also probably takes less time to implement a new social responsibility initiative vs an environmental one, and it doesn’t necessarily need to involve a big financial commitment. (Think donating unsellable inventory, volunteering time, providing space for community meetings or events, etc.)
According to a February ‘23 survey from Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose, 60% of corporate leaders said current economic conditions have had no impact on their corporate social responsibility programs; 32% said they have had some impact and 8% said they have had significant impact. Their companies are most focused on in-person volunteering opportunities (87%), followed by grant-making (80%), matching gifts (72%) and giving (72%).
Inspiration from the Home and Housewares Industry
- SimpleMODERN, a U.S. drinkware and portable lunchware company, dedicates a minimum of 10% of profits each year to nonprofits around the world. They focus on clean drinking water, education, supporting marginalized communities, human trafficking and homelessness. They also donate products, sponsor volunteer opportunities and recently established domestic manufacturing facilities near their Oklahoma headquarters. Of their employees, 99% say it’s a great place to work.
- FIFTYEIGHT PRODUCTS, a Germany-based company featuring animated porcelain products and other home goods, designed a new HOPEFUL bowl during the pandemic and donated profits to people and organizations with limited means during that challenging time.
- Dodson’s, an independent gift, home and accessories store in Virginia, developed the Round Up for Charity program in which each customer is asked at checkout if they’d like to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar. A. Dodson’s then matches each amount and donates money to a different local charity each month. To date, more than $200,000 has been given.
- Ambiente Living, a network of kitchen and home stores throughout Columbia, makes a point to include indigenous populations and artists in their sourcing. They also primarily hire single moms, offering them support and flexible schedules so they can succeed in their roles both as moms and employees. Needless to say, staff retention is high and customers feel welcomed into the culture of genuine care.
Audio recordings of education sessions from The Inspired Home Show 2023 can be found online.
Get Ready for The Inspired Home Show 2024!
March 17-19, 2024