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Why Charity in Retail is Good Business


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Product Overview

Date of PublicationApril 19, 2011
GeographyNorth America
LicenseFree and free to distribute. The goal here is to do the most good as possible.
FormatElectronic PDF
Author(s)Greg Buzek

The following study is a brief look at how consumer behavior is influenced by a retailer’s visible involvement in charitable activity. As you will see there is a very strong correlation of potential influence between a company’s visible involvement in charitable activities and their consumer’s store and product choice. We realize this was a small sample and that this is not the end-all, be-all for charity research. We offer this study for Free because the potential impact on doing good is so strong.


The study was completed through research over social media during the 2010-2011 Holiday Season. The survey was completed in conjunction with Hoops of Hope (hoopsofhope.org) using Facebook and an online survey tool. The data received, while limited in scope and depth, was quite compelling.

  • 65% of consumers say they are influenced if there is a charitable tie-in from one store to another or one brand to another,
  • Yet only 28% know if the retailers they shop are actively involved in charitable giving.
  • 53% under age 35 will buy perceived inferior products if tied to charity
    – Great opportunity to tie private label products to charitable giving.
  • When consumers buy to support charity, they tend to buy more (as they assume more goes to charity).


Outline of the research is below.

Management Summary
Does Charity Involvement Affect Where Consumers Shop?
Does a Retailers Charitable Involvement Affect Where You Shop?
How Does That Influence Change by Age of Consumer?
Consumer Awareness of Company Charitable Involvement
How Familiar Are You with the Charitable Involvement of Your Favorite Stores?
What Is the Impact at the Product Level?
Does Charity Have an Effect on Branding Decisions?
Specific Examples
Toms Shoes An Example
Have You Ever Bought Toms Shoes?
How Many Pairs of Toms Shoes Have You Purchased?
Concluding Thoughts

How was the study conducted

It was via social media of Twitter and Facebook, spread through the Hoops of Hope fan list and then going from there.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the study?

The strengths are in the conclusions. There is some really profound data here with terrific opportunities for retailers in an era where wallet share is paramount. This is specifically true for those who have private label products with higher margins. There is a very strong economic opportunity by tying private label products to charitable contributions that consumers identify with.

Limitations of the study are that this was spread by social media and started with a charity’s fan base, so the sample is likely more charity-focused than the overall general public. It is also skewed a little younger than the overall population. That being said, there is some really good data on those under the age of 35 and there is a real opportunity to connect with the consumers in this age demographic through charity.

How should we use this study?

As a start to investigate further and test it out by trying it with a few products or through some campaigns with organizations like the Retail Orphan Initiative (www.retailroi.org), Hoops of Hope (www.hoopsofhope.org), or others through KidsCause or others. The key is to make sure the charity chosen is one that your consumers would connect with and something that you would be willing to be matched with in the consumer’s minds for a long time.

For more information, please feel free to contact us.

This product is free and can be distributed liberally or reposted. The boilerplate License and Fair Use Agreement below does not apply to this research study.

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I’ve had the opportunity to work on several projects with Greg over the past several years. Greg possesses a high degree of expertise and knowledge in the Retail IT field. He has been able to respond on short notice to complex data requests on multiple occasions — and with high quality results. Greg is a great guy, and I look forward to continuing to partner with him in the future.
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