With Halloween coming up this week, you might see the word “Corpsumer” and think that the team at VDA is playing some sort of ghoulish trick on you, in the spirit of one of our favorite holidays! This term may rouse some graveyard-esque, other-worldly imagery, but in truth it’s the next marketing buzzword that we think every meeting planner, brand marketer, and consumer should be paying attention to.
In the fall of 2017, public relations firm MWWPR coined the term “Corpsumer” to represent a growing population of consumers that care less about a company’s products and services than they care about what a brand does to benefit society. MWWPR just recently commissioned its second annual study on the growing notion of “Corpsumerism” and found that 35% of the American adult population identifies as a “Corpsumer” – that’s a 2% increase in just a single year – and of that 35%, 8 out of 10 “Corpsumers” are willing to pay more for products from brands that take a stand on policy and societal issues.1
“Corpsumers don’t just want brands to take a stand, they expect it and act accordingly,” said Carreen Winters, MWWPR’s Chairman of Reputation and Chief Strategy Officer.
Hand in hand with the “Corpsumer” attitude towards consumerism comes recent phrase “good-washing,” a term derived from the notoriously disingenuous “green-washing” corporate movement of the last few decades. To gain “Corpsumer” buy-in, companies are expected to put their money where their mouth is, to make sure their actions line up with the issues they’re taking a stand on, and the core values that they’re promoting. If a brand doesn’t have good intentions, it could severely backfire. The powerful “Corpsumer” market segment does not turn a blind eye to a company’s insincere efforts. While 48% of “Corpsumers” believe that companies honestly act in the public’s best interest, most “Corpsumers” are suspicious of a company’s motive, with 59% believing they use social or policy issue for their own gain.2 In exchange for brand loyalty, “Corpsumers” hold companies to higher standards, expecting them to act as good corporate citizens, with an authentic ethos, message, and execution.
TOMS Shoes, perhaps one of the most iconic socially responsible brands, was founded on the concept of sustainable giving, through a for-profit business model. The “One for One” movement all started with the promise of donating one pair of shoes for every pair purchased, but this model has since expanded to programs that support a wide range of services for people in need. TOMS invests in jobs, social entrepreneurship, and integration with other charitable organizations through their Giving Partners program.3
The “Corpsumer” ideology extends much further beyond consumerism, and into the workforce and job market. The “Corpsumer” population, largely represented by Millennials and, increasingly Generation Z-ers, takes a critical eye to employee treatment and welfare, with 72% of “Corpsumers” being likely to apply to work at a company that took a stand on social and policy issues. When employers prioritize their employee welfare, it goes a long way with “Corpsumers,” helping to establish and build their trust. According to this year’s MWWPR “Corpsumer” study, a company’s “treatment of employees has the greatest impact on purchases decisions,” reinforcing the value “Corpsumers” place on a healthy work environment with safe working conditions, equal pay, and employment opportunities.
It’s not enough to talk the talk – you must also walk the walk.
At VDA, we like to consider ourselves “Corpsumer” approved. With a strong ethos, and a dedication to the Boston community, VDA launched the #VDAGIVESBACK initiative as a way to highlight the beneficial work we do. Over the years VDA has provided support for events such as the Greater Boston Food Bank Festival, White Ribbon Day, and the Emerson College EVVY Awards Gala. The latter through a partnership established between VDA’s Principal Designer and Founder, David G. Breen, and his alma mater, Emerson College. Through VDA’s Repurposing Initiative, we connect artists, organizations, and schools with excess material generated at VDA, such as graphics, plywood, and various plastics. By diverting these materials from the landfills and helping get them out into the learning and creative communities, this program has been a boon to both the local creative economy and the environment. VDA’s annual efforts are concluded with our Holiday Tradition in which we find a local charity or organization that matches VDA’s beliefs and values, and we extend a $5,000 gift to them. Over the years, recipients have included the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and the American Red Cross, Clara Barton Society
And in an interesting “phenomenon” that we like to call the VDA Boomerang Effect” we’ve seen a handful of employees leave VDA to forge their own path – for a new job, to raise kids, or even to move across country… but they always seem to come back! VDA offers a hospitable work environment, flexibility, and equal opportunity, that can be difficult to come by in today’s corporate culture. We may be a small company, but at VDA we believe in a big impact; it’s not enough to talk the talk – you must also walk the walk.
VDA is proud to be a “green” company, that values its employees and stays true to its core message. For more information on VDA, the #VDAGIVESBACK campaign, or the Repurposing Initiative, please contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Admin. “CorpSumers™ on the Rise: Growing Market Segment Provides Blueprint for Brand Bravery.” MWWPR | Digital & Content Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs, 25 Oct. 2018, www.mww.com/corpsumers-on-the-rise-growing-market-segment-provides-blueprint-for-brand-bravery/.
2 Monllos, Kristina. “Brands Should Take a Stand on Societal Issues But Avoid ‘Goodwashing,’ Study Says.” – Adweek, Adweek, 23 Oct. 2018, www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/brands-should-take-a-stand-on-societal-issues-but-avoid-goodwashing-study-says/?fbclid=IwAR0KthmSwb_q3PHVHuFTZ0v9F6h1LF6RqoT7iEwsmm9E2bNJBNLA59vegXI.
3 Vilas, Nupur. “Top 20 Socially Responsible Companies 2017 | SmartRecruiters.” SmartRecruiters Blog, 22 Aug. 2018, www.smartrecruiters.com/blog/top-20-corporate-social-responsibility-initiatives-for-2017/.