Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Mission Driven Retail in the U.S, including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Many retailers and brands are very forthcoming about what they stand for and the causes they support, that is, their brand mission/ purpose and CSR initiatives. It will become increasingly difficult for brands to be successful in today’s retail climate without a defined purpose or directive; consumers see this as apathy and will tune out if there is nothing to listen to or participate in. Conscious consumers, especially Gen Zs and Millennials, have definite expectations for businesses and will hold them accountable, believing they should make meaningful contributions to improve society by embracing their values and missions that signal a moral and cultural identity.

They also want businesses to drive positive change and enable them to be a part of it. This shift toward altruism and activism has been ongoing and was propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased focus on the social justice movement. This is not a trend that will pass; consumers will increasingly look to associate with brands and retailers whose values and morals align with their own and/or dissociate with brands that disappoint them.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the retail industry.
  • How the down economy is motivating consumers to shop not just for value, but also with their values.
  • The cause-related efforts consumers are interested in supporting through their shopping habits.
  • Consumers’ attitudes related to CSR and DEI initiatives.

Covered in this report

Brands featured: Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, Kroger, Apple, Patagonia, Amazon, Gap, Starbucks and many more.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Diana Smith, a leading analyst in the retail sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

All companies are in business to sell a product or service. The brands that realize their beliefs, values and ethical practices are what will set them apart from competitors will be most successful in earning the hearts of their customers, and that’s what matters most at the end of the day. By leading with conviction and purpose, these brands will empower consumers to feel good about making their purchases more meaningful.

Diana Smith

Associate Director of Retail & Apparel

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market and audience overview
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on retail, December 2020
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Stand for something beyond selling products
    • Provide tangible proof through ongoing actions
    • Support the local economy
    • Empower and educate
    • Speak up on matters related to diversity, equity and inclusion
  3. Impact of COVID-19 on Retail

      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on retail, December 2020
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
  4. Target Audience – Key Takeaways

    • Attention levels vary among consumers
    • Mission-driven consumers are young, affluent and growing
    • Deepening relationships through mission-driven efforts
  5. Mission-Driven Consumers by the Numbers

    • Attention is divided
      • Figure 3: Attention level to brand missions, October 2020
    • Positive reinforcement far outweighs expressions of disapproval
      • Figure 4: Advocacy versus boycotting tendency, October 2020
    • Those who shop with purpose tend to be younger, urban, educated and affluent
      • Figure 5: Profile of mission-driven consumers, by gender, generation, race and Hispanic origin, and parental status, October 2020
    • Income is a factor in how consumers choose to support brands
      • Figure 6: Profile of mission-driven consumers, by household income, employment, financial situation and education, October 2020
    • Where people live can shape their attitudes and behaviors
      • Figure 7: Profile of mission-driven consumers, by region and area, October 2020
  6. Trend Drivers Impacting Mission-Driven Retail

    • Surroundings
    • Rights
    • Identity
    • Wellbeing
    • Value
  7. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Cause-related efforts with tangible impact draw most support
    • All in on “made in the USA”
    • Shoppers most likely to express their support via monetary donations
    • Majority learn about brand’s CSR efforts secondhand
    • Skepticism abounds regarding impetus for CSR efforts
    • Diversity, equity and inclusion a growing area of focus
    • Some consumers are just tuned out
  8. Important Missions

    • Health and wellbeing top list of missions consumers want to support
      • Figure 8: Shopping habit changes due to COVID-19, July 2020
      • Figure 9: Bombas shares impact from charitable partners
      • Figure 10: Important missions, October 2020
    • Conscious consumers care about a lot of issues
      • Figure 11: Important missions, by generation, October 2020
      • Figure 12: Consumer attitudes regarding their surroundings, by age, July 2020*
      • Figure 13: Important social issues, by generation, June 2020
    • Parents focused on education-oriented missions
      • Figure 14: Important missions, by parental status, October 2020
    • Multicultural groups gaining attention and clout
      • Figure 15: Support of diversity, inclusion and equity, by gender and race and Hispanic origin, October 2020
  9. Motivating Claims

    • Claims are important, but may not be enough to drive purchase
      • Figure 16: Motivating claims, October 2020 versus April 2018
    • Product origin important to rural residents
      • Figure 17: Made in USA and locally made, by area, October 2020
    • Older consumers’ interests are diverse
      • Figure 18: Motivating claims, by age, October 2020
    • Women very passionate about animal welfare
      • Figure 19: Motivating claims, by gender, October 2020
      • Figure 20: Hourglass Cosmetics commits to protecting animals
    • Multicultural consumers care about natural ingredients
      • Figure 21: Motivating claims, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2020
  10. How Consumers Learn about Missions

    • A divided approach to gathering information
      • Figure 22: Passive versus active approach to learning about brand missions, October 2020
      • Figure 23: Advocacy versus boycotting tendency, by passive versus active approach to learning about brand missions, October 2020
    • Fragmented attention levels require multichannel communication approach; social media is a central requirement
      • Figure 24: For Days uses social media to promote its sustainability efforts
  11. How Consumers Support Brands’ Missions

    • Donating money is an easy way in
      • Figure 25: Preferred ways of involvement, October 2020
      • Figure 26: McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald House Charities promote round-up feature
    • Women like to donate items and change; men will donate their time
      • Figure 27: Preferred ways of involvement, by gender, October 2020
    • Monetary support reigns supreme across all income levels
      • Figure 28: Preferred ways of involvement – Nets, by household income, October 2020
    • Younger generations open to showing support in a variety of ways
      • Figure 29: Preferred ways of involvement, by generation, October 2020
    • Any consumer can be a possible supporter
      • Figure 30: Preferred ways of involvement, by attention level to brands’ missions and advocacy versus boycotting tendency, October 2020
    • Black consumers will go all in to show support
      • Figure 31: Preferred ways of involvement, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2020
      • Figure 32: Consumer attitudes and actions toward corporate social responsibility, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2020
  12. Attitudes toward Corporate Social Responsibility

    • Consumers expect brands to stand for something other than making money
      • Figure 33: Brand opportunities when considering CSR programs, October 2020
      • Figure 34: Brand opportunities when considering CSR programs, by generation, October 2020
    • Consumers want to do the right thing
      • Figure 35: Consumer attitudes and actions, October 2020
    • More education needed on sustainability
      • Figure 36: Supporting sustainability, by gender and age, October 2020
  13. Attitudes and Behaviors toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    • To make a public statement or not; majority say yes
      • Figure 37: Attitudes toward companies making public statements about social justice, by generation, October 2020
      • Figure 38: Nike speaks out against racial injustice
      • Figure 39: Attitudes toward companies making public statements about social justice, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2020
    • Majority think brands lack authenticity
      • Figure 40: Attitudes toward companies’ social unrest response, October 2020
    • Actions over statements – internally and externally
      • Figure 41: Likelihood to support brands that take action, October 2020
      • Figure 42: Kroger DEI initiatives and communication
      • Figure 43: Likelihood to support brands that take action, by gender and age, October 2020
    • Supporting Black Lives Matter through shopping
      • Figure 44: Likelihood to support brands that support Black Lives Matter, by generation, October 2020
      • Figure 45: Likelihood to support brands that support Black Lives Matter, by gender and race, October 2020
    • Over time, conscious support of Black-owned businesses will increase
      • Figure 46: Likelihood to support Black-owned businesses, by gender and race, October 2020
      • Figure 47: Target supports Black-owned brands
      • Figure 48: Discover supports Black-owned restaurants
  14. Reasons for Apathy

    • The basics come first
      • Figure 49: Reasons for apathy, October 2020
    • Consumers might be well-intentioned, but convenience still wins out
      • Figure 50: Select reasons for apathy, by household income, October 2020
    • Young females are skeptical
      • Figure 51: Skepticism regarding CSR, by gender and age, October 2020
      • Figure 52: Pela Plastic Meter
  15. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Get local
    • Be visible, vocal and active
    • There is no one right approach to executing CSR efforts
    • Consumers will take note of how brands act and respond
  16. Brand Opportunities

    • Proudly promote CSR efforts
    • Consider a local angle
      • Figure 53: American Express “shop small” campaign
    • Consider the role of the product
    • Vary the mechanisms for consumer support
  17. Competitive Strategies

    • Top performers in consumers’ eyes
    • Multiple missions, multiple expressions
    • DEI activism
    • Ben & Jerry’s
      • Figure 54: Ben & Jerry’s social mission
      • Figure 55: Ben & Jerry’s continually takes a stand on social issues
    • Dove
      • Figure 56: Dove co-founds the CROWN Coalition
    • Kroger
    • Apple
    • Health and wellbeing
    • Outdoor Voices
      • Figure 57: Outdoor Voices email promotes its mission, not products, January 2021
    • Environmentalism and sustainability
    • Patagonia
      • Figure 58: Patagonia’s Public Trust film
      • Figure 59: Patagonia calls for people to buy less and demand more
    • Amazon
      • Figure 60: Amazon’s Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle
    • Johnson & Johnson
    • Giving back
      • Figure 61: Toms supports grassroots organizations
      • Figure 62: Allbirds donates shoes to healthcare workers during COVID-19
      • Figure 63: OuiPlease asks customers to donate goods to women’s shelters
    • Missed opportunities
    • Gap
    • Starbucks
  18. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  19. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 64: Total US retail sales, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 65: Total US retail ecommerce sales and forecast, at current prices, 2015-25
  20. Appendix – The Consumer

    • Qualitative research
    • Examples of companies that consumers think are doing a good job at communicating their mission
    • Impact of company QSR efforts on consumers’ shopping habits

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

Below is a sample report, understand what you are buying.

Click to show report

Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted. Also, our reports come in PDF, Powerpoint, Word and Excel Databook formats.

Trusted by companies. Big and small.

Bell Logo - Mintel client
Boots Logo - Mintel Client
Kelloggs Logo - Mintel client
Samsung Logo - Mintel client
Nike Logo - Mintel client
Walgreens Logo - Mintel client

Want to speak to us directly?

Contact us on via phone or fill out a form with your enquiry.

Contact Us