This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the Corporate Social Responsibility in Retail market including Corporate Social Responsibility in Retail market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the Corporate Social Responsibility in Retail market in the US.

Current market landscape

Half of US adults pay attention to companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. And, a majority of those who pay attention also think that these CSR plans are important factors when they are deciding where to shop or what to buy.

Conscious consumerism is on the rise as consumers increasingly want to direct their purchasing in ways that have meaning beyond a mere transaction. Amid such high inflation, though, consumers might be forced to make purchase decisions that are more based on basic needs like price and product availability rather than ethics. This, as well as other outside factors such as the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, threaten to divert consumers’ attention and intentions.

Half of consumers remain skeptical about the intent of such CSR plans, and, as such, they’re more likely to see and hear marketing language and lofty goals that don’t have meaning. While there will always be naysayers, companies have to work hard to educate the public at large about the true intent and meaning behind their efforts, as well as share tangible impact.

Market share and key industry trends

American consumers have a lot on their minds, and, likewise, there’s no shortage of issues for brands to be addressing. And most of the listed issues are all related to each other – which has created a perfect storm of challenges for both companies and consumers. It’s also certainly not an all-inclusive list either, as broader social issues such as the fight for diversity, equity and inclusion continue to command consumer mindshare.

  • The pandemic was the primary cause for concern throughout 2020-21, and now some of its by-products are currently causing more strife.
  • Inflation is by far the top consumer concern as of April 2022 data. This is a valid issue – inflation rose again in March 2022 to more than 8.5%, nearly four times the pre-pandemic rate.
  • Nearly seven in 10 adults think their household finances will be impacted by the war in Ukraine, with increases in gas prices (73%) and food/ drink prices (62%) the main repercussions.

Future market trends in corporate social responsibility in the retail industry

There are many ways to earn the trust and respect of consumers. This could entail putting company leaders in the spotlight, showing how they personally uphold their company beliefs; providing progress reports as to the impact the company’s CSR efforts have had using measurable proof; and taking stands on important matters even when it puts a company’s profits at risk.

Read on to discover more about the Corporate Social Responsibility in Retail consumer market, read our Value-Conscious Consumer – US – 2021 report, or take a look at our other Retail research reports.

Quickly understand examples of corporate social responsibility in retail

  • What macroeconomic factors are currently shaping consumer shopping behaviors, and CSR’s role in this larger picture.
  • Areas where consumers want companies to focus their CSR efforts.
  • How consumers find out about companies’ CSR initiatives.
  • Ways that consumers are willing to show support for brands’ and retailers’ CSR efforts.
  • Consumers’ awareness of – and attitudes toward – brands’ sustainability efforts.
  • Consumers’ attitudes related to CSR in general.
  • What being socially responsible in retail entails.

Covered in this corporate social responsibility in retail report

Brands include: Walmart, Target, Kroger, CVS, Citigroup Bank, Apple, Yelp, PepsiCo, Aquafina, Tropicana, Fanta, Coca-Cola, Life Time, American Airlines,  Ace & Tate, Allbirds, Adidas, TheRealReal, Mission Brand Alliance, United, The Verticale, Good on You, Sephora, J.Crew, Gap, Crocs, Unilever, GroupM, NBCUniversal, Campbells, PacSun, Air & Anchor, Lululemon, Poshmark, Walmart, Heart & Hustle, Sam’s Club, Panera Bread, Kroger, Albertson’s.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Diana Smith, a leading analyst in the Retail and eCommerce sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and benefits of social responsibility in retail, and add expert context to the numbers.

Consumers expect companies to act in ethical ways that support their employees, their local communities, the environment and the greater world at large. Consumers also can’t support every company they admire all the time – they too have to make choices. However, consumers are willing to listen, learn and get involved, so the onus is on companies to invite participation and educate them as to how they are helping to make a difference.

Diana Smith, Associate Director, Retail & eCommerce

Diana Smith
Associate Director, Retail and eCommerce

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Outlook on corporate social responsibility, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Inflation may shift the focus to affordability
    • Consumers are well-intentioned about sustainability, but only “somewhat” committed to it
    • Consumers want to play a role, so enable them to do so
    • Consumers will believe when they see measurable change
    • Be agile enough to make adjustments and know when to speak up
    • Key consumer insights
  3. Conscious Consumers by the Numbers

    • Consumers’ attention levels are split
      • Figure 2: Attention level to CSR initiatives, 2022
    • A brand’s actions can be just as important as its products
      • Figure 3: Influence on purchase decisions, 2022
    • Millennials, multicultural adults among the most conscious consumers
      • Figure 4: Attention level to CSR initiatives and their Influence on purchase decisions, by key demographics, 2022
    • What consumers want from brands
  4. Market Factors

    • Many opportunities to make an impact
      • Figure 5: Current consumer concerns, 2022
      • Figure 6: Consumer Price Index change from previous year, 2020-22
      • Figure 7: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, 2007-22
      • Figure 8: Attitudes toward brand responsibility, 2021
    • Pandemic influences reassessment of priorities
    • US pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while state governments enact policies to reduce wasteful use of plastics
  5. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Promote, advocate and educate
      • Figure 9: Responsible party for various causes, 2021
      • Figure 10: US women’s and men’s national soccer teams to be paid the same, 2022
    • Rethink the packaging and product materials
      • Figure 11: Target launches Target Zero, 2022
    • Provide progress reports
      • Figure 12: Lifetime Fitness video provides progress on previously set goals, 2022
      • Figure 13: American Airlines details progress toward net-zero emissions, 2022
    • Show consumers what impact their purchases have
      • Figure 14: Allbirds launches its lowest carbon emissions shoe yet with Adidas, 2022
      • Figure 15: TheRealReal promotes the positive impact of resale on the environment, 2022
    • Join forces with others
      • Figure 16: The Mission Brand Alliance encourages consumers to purchase with purpose, 2022
    • Zone in on diversity and inclusivity
    • Partnering with others to share best practices
      • Figure 17: Sephora initiates Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter, 2022
    • Reevaluating brand stakeholders, from suppliers to influencers
      • Figure 18: Sephora promotes minority-owned brands, 2022
    • Tying into awareness holidays
      • Figure 19: Awareness holidays that brands should support, 2021
      • Figure 20: Air & Anchor celebrates World Autism Awareness Day, 2022
    • Highlight places where affordability can be tied in with CSR efforts
    • Feed the planet in more ways than one
      • Figure 21: Sam’s Club rebrands Member’s Mark, 2022
      • Figure 22: Albertsons creates Recipe for Change ESG framework, 2022
  6. The Consumer – Fast Facts

  7. Important Issues for Brands to Support

    • Three-way tie for top issues consumers want brands to address
    • What this means
      • Figure 23: Important issues for brands to support, 2022
    • Breaking down environmental and social issues
      • Figure 24: Most concerning environmental issues, 2021
      • Figure 25: Most concerning social issues, 2021
    • Gen Z wants brands to address health and wellness-related issues, more so than others
      • Figure 26: Important issues for brands to support, by generation and parental status, 2022
    • Black consumers far more likely than others to say DEI is important to address
      • Figure 27: Important issues for brands to support, by race and by Hispanic origin, 2022
  8. Information Sources

    • Consumers are influenced by a variety of sources
    • What this means
      • Figure 28: Information sources, 2022
    • Gen Z and Millennials more likely to get their information from online sources
      • Figure 29: Information sources, by generation, 2022
  9. Preferred Methods of Involvement

    • Monetary support is preferred, but not the only way consumers will get involved
    • What this means
      • Figure 30: Preferred methods of involvement – nets, by household income, 2022
    • Consumers are willing to show their support for brands, especially if it doesn’t involve much effort
      • Figure 31: Preferred methods of involvement, 2022
      • Figure 32: Allbirds supports Earth Day with call for donations, 2022
      • Figure 33: Sam’s Club supports Feeding America food banks, 2022
    • Women will advocate for brands in many ways
      • Figure 34: Select preferred methods of involvement, by gender, 2022
    • Gen Z and Millennials will go the extra step for causes they believe in
      • Figure 35: Preferred methods of involvement, by generation, 2022
    • Black consumers will open their wallets for the right reason
      • Figure 36: Select preferred methods of involvement, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
      • Figure 37: Macy’s supports Black History Month, 2022
    • Consumers more likely to get involved with brands that are made locally or in the USA
      • Figure 38: Top five environmental claims that resonate with consumers when shopping, 2022
  10. Attitudes toward Sustainability

    • Most consumers are “somewhat” in the know on sustainability and think it’s “somewhat” important
    • What this means
      • Figure 39: Sustainability knowledge, 2021
      • Figure 40: Importance of sustainability, 2022
    • Sustainability is a top concern for at least four in 10 shoppers for electronics, household goods and food
      • Figure 41: Importance of sustainability, by category, 2022
      • Figure 42: Willingness to pay more for sustainability, by key demographics, 2022
      • Figure 43: Chipotle touts proof points from its sustainability report, 2021
    • Level of expectation regarding sustainability’s scope will evolve
      • Figure 44: Attitudes toward brands and sustainability, 2022
      • Figure 45: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
      • Figure 46: Motivating reasons to buy eco-friendly products
    • Consumers speak out on sustainability
    • They understand the concept of sustainability, but perhaps not the various facets of it
    • Recycling, reducing use of plastics are common household activities
    • Open to learning from brands, within limits
  11. Attitudes toward Corporate Social Responsibility

    • Consumers want brands to speak up about their CSR plans
    • What this means
      • Figure 47: Attitudes toward communicating CSR efforts and company values, 2022
      • Figure 48: Attitudes toward communicating CSR efforts and company values, by generation, 2022
    • Consumers will align with, but also avoid, companies whose CSR efforts match or differ from their own
      • Figure 49: Advocacy versus boycotting, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 50: Flowers for Dreams stands up for Women’s Health Protection Act, 2022
    • CSR can be a recruitment tool and a revenue generator
      • Figure 51: General attitudes toward corporate social responsibility, 2022
      • Figure 52: Attitude toward worth of socially responsible companies, by age and household income, 2022
    • No room for marketing hype
      • Figure 53: Skepticism toward social responsibility efforts, by key demos, 2022
    • Multicultural consumers are tuned in and taking action
    • What this means
      • Figure 54: Attitudes toward corporate social responsibility efforts, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
  12. Reasons for Apathy

    • Price and convenience still win out
    • What this means
      • Figure 55: Reasons for apathy, 2022
    • Older men are the most skeptical
      • Figure 56: Skepticism regarding CSR, by gender and age, 2022
  13. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

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