Sunday 2 December 2012

Recession doesn't stop do-good consumption

Tyler Merrick thought his timing couldn’t have been worse. He launched Project 7 – a company aimed at devoting some of its profits to charity – in the fall of 2008, just as the world financial system was unraveling.

He had left a safe job in his family’s pet-food business in Texas to start his own company in Orange County, Calif. He had just turned 30, and he was scared.

“Here I am starting a company about giving back when everyone was just trying to hold on,” he says.

But over time, the unexpected happened. In the recession and its aftermath, Merrick’s company has grown. That first year, it sold its line of coffee, gum and mints in about 160 stores nationwide. By the end of this year, Merrick expects to be in 20,000, including mega-marketers Target and Walmart.

Merrick says revenues in the privately owned company, which has 15 employees, have grown to “several million” dollars annually, with “hundreds of thousands” going to homeless shelters, food banks and environmental causes.

He calls his business model “cause integration.” He’s trying to catch a wave of what social scientists and marketers call “conscientious consumption” – careful consumers buying products from firms that say they give part of the costs to causes.

Giving on the rise again
Corporate giving fell in 2009 in the wake of the recession, according to an annual survey of 144 companies by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) a non-profit that helps companies with their giving. But in its most recent survey, released in October, CECP found that 60% of companies increased giving from 2009 to 2011. Education and disaster relief, especially, saw increases from corporate giving.

Experts in corporate philanthropy say that being seen as a good corporate citizen increasingly is viewed as good business.

CECP Director Margaret Coady says the idea of companies building philanthropy or social awareness into their business models “has been gaining momentum the last couple of years.” As an example, she cited Toms, a shoe company that promises to give a needy child a pair of shoes for every pair it sells.

Recession doesn't stop do-good consumption
The News Journal
In the recession and its aftermath, Merrick's company has grown. That first year, it sold its line of coffee, gum and mints in about 160 stores nationwide. By the end of this year, Merrick expects to be in 20,000, including mega-marketers Target and ...
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Fabius Maximus (blog)
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The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly in the latest public data. It is now at 126.3, up from 125.4 in the previous week. See the WLI chart in the Appendix below. The WLI annualized growth indicator ...
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