'Social Good' Initiatives to Come Under Review

In their attempt to appear environmentally and socially responsible, marketers may have gone too far. These days, consumers have no trouble distinguishing between ‘goodwashing’ and the real thing. As a result, marketers are now evaluating how to position themselves for consumers who have a social conscience.

A new report published by JWT highlights 4 key trends influencing marketers:

  •  The End of Goodwashing: Consumers want marketers to show them exactly what they are doing with respect to cause marketing – what they’re spending and how it’s helping.
  • Increase in Shared Values: Marketers are adjusting business models and the bottom line and are “integrating social issues into their core strategies.”
  • Creative Urban Renewal: Recognizing that more consumers are living in urban environments, successful marketers are pointing to what they’re doing to improve these environments.
  • Nonprofits: More of these organizations are streamlining their operations. As they run more efficiently, they can use their funds to “achieve visible change.”

Consumers also have specific wish-​lists with respect to marketers:

  • Corporations need to ‘more good and less bad’: 83%
  • I am unsure of what my donations to non-​profits are being used for: 88%
  • Brands have a responsibility to improve their local communities where they operate: 77%

Age also appears to be a factor for consumers who want marketers to exhibit brand involvement at a local level. Baby Boomers are the most likely, 86%, to say brands and large companies have a responsibility to local communities.  Only 82% of Millennials and 83% of Gen Xers say the same thing.

These kinds of findings suggest that marketers will be adjusting the way they do business. In addition, they’ll be shifting the general strategies they’ve been using to demonstrate social responsibility and instead be marketing the specific steps they are taking to improve life for consumers.

[Sources: Social Good. JWTIntelligence​.com. September 2011. Web. 28 Sep. 2011; Palley, Will. Data point. JWTIntelligence​.com. 23 Sep. 2011. Web. 28 Sep. 2011]


Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.