This holiday season consumers want to give—and to give back. We’ve learned they plan to spend more than they did last year on gifts for family and friends (ten percent more on average), and a substantial majority, three in every four shoppers, plans to donate to a favorite cause or to spend time volunteering. Retailers will get in the spirit, too: nearly 75 percent say they will make charitable contributions to celebrate the season. And the good cheer doesn’t end there. Giving back inspires more giving back. Consumers prefer to buy from retailers who translate their values into action, whether it’s in the form of cash donations, commitments to sustainable practices, or community involvement, and many shoppers say they will actually spend more with these brands. It’s clear that giving back is good for business.
This is exciting news and a happy blurring of the lines between what we care about and how and what we buy and sell. Companies can engage consumers with their brands and products by demonstrating a clear sense of social purpose. Consumers have the opportunity to choose companies or products that support the causes they champion. At a time when consumers are increasingly demanding not only great products but companies with values that match their own, the holiday season is an ideal time to bring humanity to buying and selling.
While shoppers of all ages say they will open their hearts and their wallets this year for causes that matter to them, we can expect to see some generational differences. As we report in PwC’s 2016 Holiday Outlook: it’s the most digital time of the year, more millennial parents than consumers overall plan to make donations to their favorite charities. And millennials (young, college-educated, upwardly mobile), will increase the size of their charitable donations this year by a larger amount than shoppers in other age groups. But younger consumers won’t be far behind when it comes to spending to support causes they believe in. Gen Z shoppers (ages 16-20) are both brand loyal and loyal to brands that show social impact through their actions.
Younger millennials and members of Gen Z, perhaps because they have grown up in the era of B (benefit) Corporations, for example, when they buy a pair of shoes a pair goes to a child in need, and they expect business to be a force for good. But, I suspect that no matter how young or old the shopper, when we like a product, we like it even more when we learn that the people who make or sell it care about the things that we care about, too. A majority of consumers across generations say they hold in high esteem retailers who illustrate that they are committed to making a difference.