‘Social purpose’ required for retailers to move on from pandemic

High Street

The impact of Covid-19 on the high street, and the dual rise of an ‘altruistic customer’, have accelerated the importance of “social purpose” in the boardroom, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said this week.

Speaking at a business panel convened by the micro-donation charity Pennies on November 11, Helen stated there has been a “structural shift in the way that people shop” and by “doing the right thing as a Board makes for better business for the company and the environment in which it operates.”

She summarised: “The time is now – the pandemic has given us the momentum to drive social change in retail businesses.”

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In a keynote address at Pennies’ event, cross-industry non-executive director, Roisin Donnelly echoed Dickinson’s sentiment, cautioning “there has never been a more important time for social purpose, and those not doing it will need to move fast. Successful brands have redefined their businesses to earn trust – as purpose and trust are now much more important to the consumer.”

The event hosts, Pennies, enable a customer ‘micro-donation’ option for consumer businesses to raise vital income for the UK charity sector.

Through an ecosystem of retailers, hospitality brands, tech and payment companies and UK charities, the charity makes it easy and affordable for UK consumers to give a little, digitally, to charity as they shop.

Pennies’ growth of micro-donations – and the generosity of UK consumers – exceeded expectations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

CEO, Alison Hutchinson CBE, said, “During the first national lockdown, around 80% of our brand partners’ physical or digital doors shut to consumers, yet incredibly in the first 10 months of 2020 we saw consumer donation volumes 10% higher than at the same point in 2019 – which is quite remarkable.”

Adding: “In the last 10 years we’ve enabled 100million consumer micro-donations, benefitting over 600 charities and totalling over £27m. But with the support of more brands, tech partners, charities and consumers we want to enable our next 100million by 2023. That’s our invitation and challenge to join-in our micro-donation movement.”

Recent polling of over 2000+ UK consumers by Pennies found that 74% think businesses have a responsibility to do social good, and 59% are more likely to shop at a business that is clear about their ethical stance.

The research chimes with that of KPMG, July 2020, which revealed that consumers are placing greater emphasis on trust in brands as a result of the pandemic. Based on the views of over 12,000 consumers globally, almost half of respondents (41% ) said trust in the brand was a principal driver in purchasing decisions.

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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