For Retailers

The Next Era of Social Impact Commerce: ShoppingGives’ Annual Report

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This year, ShoppingGives partnered with Coresight Research to introduce a report on the state of social impact as we enter a new era of purpose-driven commerce. The 2020s have brought turmoil to the business landscape and caused significant changes in customer behavior.
Consumers are buying from brands that resonate with their personal value systems—now more than ever. To understand these patterns in conscious consumption, we analyzed 1,646 eCommerce and Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands. This report breaks down:
  1. The state of social impact growth over the past two years
  2. Macro factors and data-driven behavioral predictions
  3. How brands can respond to consumer expectations
Conscious consumption is on the rise, and it’s here to stay. While legacy companies are in a mad dash to understand and leverage the power of social impact, mission-driven brands lead the way by fostering conversation within their communities and effecting broader social change.
2022: The Rise of the Conscious Consumer
The behavioral shift toward conscious consumption started even before the pandemic.
COVID-19 only accelerated the inevitable. Today's consumers are increasingly interested in brands' social impact, consistently seeking out brands that align with their values. This is especially true for younger generations: Gen Z and millennials. Research shows that 83% of Millennials consider it important for the companies they buy from to align with their values.
Modern consumers are increasingly choosing purpose-driven brands over those that don't align with their values. In this new age of consumerism, shoppers are far more likely to prioritize social initiatives, community impact, and responsibility over convenience or cheap costs.
Why DTC Brands Are Leading the Giving Charge
Businesses have historically held themselves to one goal: profit.
Today, we’re witnessing an evolution beyond that point as companies look to give back and take part in driving social change – and emerging DTC brands sit at the forefront of this movement.
More specifically, eCommerce merchants sit at the forefront of this social impact movement. Research from Brandwatch shows customers strongly believe that a brand should operate according to its values and proactively make the world a better place. In other words: For consumers, it’s not enough to talk the talk. Brands must also walk the walk.

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How eCommerce is Propelling Social Impact Growth
The ShoppingGives analysis further identified correlations within retailer donation habits.
Retailers who tend to donate to one category will likely focus donations on another category within the same month. For instance, retailers who donate to Philanthropy and Volunteering, Health, and Food and Nutrition demonstrate a 94% likelihood to also donate to charity organizations from the International Affairs category.
Zooming out, the DTC boom has reshaped the charitable giving landscape as we know it.
Today, eCom is actually one of the most common donation sources. Nonprofits in some segments receive over 95% of their donation volume from digital commerce. There are countless ways for eCom brands to approach charitable giving, including:
  1. Percentage of proceeds donated
  2. Percentage of sales donated
  3. Donation amount per order
  4. Donation amount committed
  5. A number of meals per order
  6. A number of products per order
  7. Donations of other items
Dissecting Macro Trends: What’s Really Driving Impact?
The cultural shifts of 2020 were widely described as a larger wake-up call for society.
A confluence of macro trends, from COVID-19 to the Black Lives Matter movement to severe global wildfires, forced leaders to reexamine what exact values their business stands for and how to materialize these values into actions. Broadly, they understood it was time to move beyond sympathetic statements and toward tangible purpose-driven initiatives.
As merchants are forced to prioritize impact strategy, we can spot patterns of brands targeting the causes their users care about in order to create more meaningful brand-buyer connections.
Peering into the Future: Data-Driven Outlooks & Predictions
As fierce competition brews across the DTC ecosystem, it increasingly appears that a strategic way to stand out is to demonstrate authenticity in brand values. Notable examples include:

  1. White + Warren, a rapidly growing women’s cashmere retailer, frequently launches exclusive products to support a social impact cause or unique charity of choice.

  2. Natori, a design house committed to uplifting purpose-driven and value-aligned organizations, coordinates ongoing impact efforts to support those most in need.

  3. Highline Wellness, a cannabis wellness brand on a mission to make the world a more pleasant place, focuses on supporting what causes matter most to their customers.

  4. Blind Barber, a fast-growing DTC personal care brand, leverages social impact to consistently incentivize and reward repeat customers while engaging loyal customers.

As reported by Deloitte, purpose-driven brands witness greater market share gains and grow 3X faster than their competitors, while also recording higher employee and customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, the goal is to build loyalty and trust. Brands can greatly benefit from deeper, more authentic connections with their users through shared beliefs. But the road to a value-aligned community will require embedding your social mission within the foundation of your business.
Ready for a New Era of Impactful Commerce?
To build trusting, long-term relationships with users, companies are implementing social impact as a central component of both their consumer-facing and operational initiatives. By standing for something greater than DTC products, brands can connect with buyers on a deeper level.
Critically, purpose-led brands are replacing historic pools of “buyers” with genuine, authentic communities of loyal, engaged, and valuable stakeholders who’ll hold them accountable.
By offering your shoppers a seamless, native giving experience, you drive both profits and social change, setting yourself up for success in this next chapter of purpose-driven commerce.
The next era of impact-driven commerce has already arrived. Download the full report below.