Socially conscious consumers (SCCs) are reshaping the way businesses perform and engage in the marketplace. As a consumer group, they care about businesses that are working toward societal benefits for all — and not just driven by profit.
According to a recent survey by Deloitte, millennials believe that businesses need “a reset in terms of paying as much attention to people and purpose as they do product and profit.”
In the game of winning SCCs’ hearts, companies need to be forthright in the way they care about the communities in which they operate, the environment and the way they make their money — companies need to show that they care about people, the planet and profit.
So, how is it that when people think about brands with the most appealing corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, no real estate entity is mentioned? After all, brokerages and agents care for communities, the environment and certainly do care about profit.
Are we, then, as an industry missing the mark in communicating just how passionate we are about these things, or is making a difference not something we have the time or energy to focus on?
The issue might not be at the corporate level. Most real estate corporations have existing partnerships with national or international nonprofit or NGOs but not at the local brokerage level.
Real estate brokers and agents do not choose each other on the basis of doing good, but rather, on maximizing each others’ profit. If money is the main catalyst for this relationship, it would stand to reason that everything else — community, environment and people — would be relegated to no more than an afterthought or worse, not be considered at all.
As industries move more and more toward embracing social responsibility, it’s time for local real estate brokerages and agents to follow suit. Here are three compelling reasons this is important:
1. Social is the new norm
You can’t avoid it. You can’t go around it. Social is here, and it’s here to stay. SCCs view businesses as a force for good, and they are conscious about which company we want to be associated with, regardless of the industry.
The reason for this new normalcy is simple: SCCs are demanding more accountability and transparency from companies. The rise in fair trade products, impact investing and social responsibility programs are proof that consumers have moved beyond the simple consumption of good and services.
They are looking to make a difference and want businesses to join them. Corporations who have tapped into social are not only getting SCCs loyalties but also a legion of like-minded of their peers to do business with them.
2. Influx of data requires agents and brokers to connect with clients on a deeper level
Real estate market data is everywhere, and it’s accessible to SCCs. Placing a great emphasis on market statistics and trends, though initially appreciated, is a sure way to miss earning their business.
Brokers and agents must show SCCs that they’re not just a path to additional earning or commission. My company, Century 21 Redwood Realty, has a long history of community involvement and partnerships with local nonprofit and NGOs including Habitat for Humanity and Loudoun Abused Women Shelter (LAWS) — just to name a few.
The company experienced tremendous growth in recent years, and with that growth came the ability to focus our community involvement under one single initiative — Redwood Gives Back.
While we encourage our agents to be a force for good in their respective communities, we needed to effectively communicate our stance on community partnership and social responsibility corporately.
Redwood Gives Back aligns our drive to excel in customer service with our desire for social impact. In essence, in addition to selling homes — we sell our passion for making the world and our communities a better place, and we invite our clients to join in.
3. Doing good does wonders for your business
Can you actually make money and do good? It turns out, you can. Companies who gave 10 percent or more toward philanthropic activities, as reported by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), have seen their median revenue increase by 11 percent, while revenue decreased by 3 percent for all other companies.
Nielsen reports that 55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay a premium for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.
Think of it this way: Whatever hesitation or pressure you felt to discount your services in the past has been lifted. SCCs pay premiums for handmade shoes in order for their shoemakers in Peru to be compensated appropriately (Nisolo) or buy multiple pairs of prescription glasses from a company who will donate a pair for every purchase to someone in need (Warby Parker).
None of these examples compare to the emotional gratification of buying, renting or selling a home.
So, if saving turtles or volunteering at an animal shelter is your thing, make sure you highlight it in your next listing presentation or buyer consultation. You might find that this small passion for helping matters a great deal to others — and your bank account will thank you for it.