VOICES – FROM THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Time for Some Social Responsibility in 2021
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Is 2020 over yet? What a year, and I’m sure, like me, you are counting down the days to its welcome conclusion. However, as we enter the bell lap on 2020, now is great time to take stock of the many lessons learned over the last year and think about a still rather murky 2021.
Mike McEnaney
Editorial Director
The term “corporate social responsibility” or CSR, is one we are seeing tossed around a lot of late. And it is becoming a pretty prevalent one in the retail world. More and more retailers are realizing that giving back doesn’t just make the world a better place - it can also be good for business.
Here’s a few statistics that illustrate this notion pretty clearly:
  • According to a recent report by Forrester Research, 52% of U.S. consumers factor values into their purchase choices, seeking brands that proactively promote beliefs and values aligned with their own.
  • A recent Nielsen survey found that 66% of consumers were willing to pay more for goods from brands that demonstrated social commitment.
  • Yet another study by public relations and marketing firm Cone Communications found that 87% of Americans will purchase a product because its company advocated for an issue they cared about.
CSR matters to consumers more today than it ever has, and that is particularly true when it comes to younger demographics, with millennials leading the way here. So, suffice it to say, it is extremely important to consider what types of CSR activities are effective in targeting younger consumers.
Among the more common CSR efforts we’ve seen over recent years are things like recyclable packaging, promotions that spread awareness of prominent societal issues, and directing portions of profits toward local charitable groups. That represents the tip of the CSR iceberg.
Look, as we enter 2021, a large percentage of U.S. retail efforts will focus on simply clawing back – a task that could take the retail sector years to accomplish, courtesy of the impact of the pandemic. According to eMarketer’s latest forecast on U.S. retail sales, total retail sales will drop by 10.5% this year, steeper than the 8.2% drop in 2009. eCommerce is the only bright spot, jumping 18.0% this year, as Americans rely more on online retailers for necessities.
eMarketer adds that brick-and-mortar sales will continue to weigh down overall retail, long-term. The researcher predicts that brick-and-mortar retail sales will fall 14.0% to $4.184 trillion in 2020, adding that it might take up to five years for offline sales to return to pre-pandemic levels. Simply stated, the sledding is going to remain rough well into 2021; thus, focusing some time and effort into a smart CSR strategy is one way to help smooth out some of bumps you’ll hit along the way.
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