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Do Well by Doing Good: A Guide for Bringing Social Impact to Your Brand

It is no longer enough for brands to rest on corporate social responsibility, sustainable practices, good governance, and good corporate citizenship. Consumers want leadership on social and environmental issues, and they want that leadership to be integral to the brands they buy, love, advocate, and promote. These consumers have been called belief-driven consumers, social impact consumers, and many other things, but since they are now the significant majority, it may be best to simply call them consumers and assume that those who do not yet consider impact in their purchases are the ones that need a special name.

While the concept of cause-based marketing or cause-based affiliation for brands isn’t new, it is transforming. The winning brands of the future are those that realize that bringing social impact into their core is no longer niche cause marketing — it’s simply marketing that recognizes that the world is changing. Very few messages can cut through the ad blockers on phones or between people’s ears. But consumers are still open to hearing about and participating with companies and products that make the world better. Brands are increasingly recognizing this, and the cause marketing industry has grown from $700 million in 2000 to more than $2 billion in 2017. And it is poised to grow even more rapidly as many current trends take hold.

This review seeks to explore this trend and present a kick-start guide for brands trying to navigate this revolution. It is intended for marketers, brand strategists, and other business executives who are actively developing their companies’ paths forward on social issues and social impact marketing.

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