Adapting to new expectations of the modern consumer


Brands of the future are built on community engagement.

Buying, boycotting, and a co-creative experience

Brands of the future are built on community engagement.

We’ve all seen the traditional ‘responsible business’ model: a company does good through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), signalling that they are a brand to trust.

But there is a new model that goes beyond promoting CSR to actively using it to drive brand engagement.

Modern consumers want their values to be considered and want to be given a brand experience rather than just a transaction.

This is especially the case for the younger consumer cohort (i.e., millennials and Gen Z).

According to Edelman’s 2018 Earned Brand study, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue – an increase of 13 points from the 2017 percentage.

Consumers are also looking for brands that stand out and help them experience something new. Better yet, when this is a co-creative experience shared between brand and consumer.

Our partner C Space, a leading customer agency, has codified the best experiences in their report ‘Customer, Experienced’. The report claims that helping customers experience something new, that aligns to their values, fulfils two important emotional cues:


“Even if I think of myself as a rational creature, emotions drive my decision making. A company that makes me feel good will be the one
I return to again and again, the one I tell other people about”


“I want you to have an innate understanding of who I am and what’s important to me. And I want that understanding to guide how
you treat me”

How brands are using this

Take the partnership between P&G’s Febreze, Tesco and TerraCycle. Their idea was innovative but simple. The parts of Febreze products that cannot be recycled through kerbside recycling are collected in Tesco stores. TerraCycle collects these plastic parts, treats them and repurposes them into a playground made out of recycled plastic.

The brand bolsters its purpose of ‘leaving nothing but fresh air behind’ and gives customers the opportunity to participate in an issue they care about. Depositing non-recyclable packaging parts in Tesco stores drives footfall. The final playground is built for the school that receives the most votes, driving participation in local communities, creating tangible impact for schools and all the while building brand equity for both companies. Everybody wins.

What do the numbers look like for schemes like this? One brand famed for its social purpose is shoe manufacturer Toms, whose brand mission of ‘One for One’ sees them donate one pair of shoes for every pair purchased.

On their annual #WithoutShoes day, the Toms tribe (their digital community) is asked to post a picture of their bare feet and the company donates a pair of shoes per post. The numbers are staggering. Through their 2016 event:


Toms donated 27,435 shoes to children worldwide.


The campaign hashtag produced a total of 62m impressions on all social media channels.


The single day’s activity secured more than 250 media placements.

How we approach this at CAF

It would be a huge missed opportunity not to capitalise on the power of consumers to achieve good, both for society and for business, which is why we enable companies to do this with ease and impact.

We focus on three key areas:

Positive brand associations

Making a public brand commitment to an authentic charitable cause, driving sales and donations through an additional revenue stream.

Customer participation

Using donations to causes that customers care about to incentivise loyalty, giving you more insight into purchasing behaviour.

Making a genuine, positive difference

Demonstrating business values to a broad customer segment, channelling efforts to contribute to positive change at scale.


Engaging your consumers

We give your customers the chance to engage with your brand and ‘feel good’ by shopping with you.

Find out more here

Fuller's Case Study

A family meal at the local pub tastes even better when you know it helps a good cause.

Find out more here

Spotlight on retail

From plastic bag levy funded charitable schemes to peace keeping in Cambodia, we explore retail and philanthropy.

Visit retail hub

Want to know more?


Meet our expert team and contact them for support and advice.

Get in touch now


Our corporate advisory service

Our Advisory team have a strong track record of providing strategic corporate responsibility, sustainability and community investment advice.

CAF Give As You Earn

Our Payroll Giving scheme is a flexible, tax-effective way for your employees to donate to the causes they care about straight from their pay.

CAF Company Account

Giving through a CAF Company Account can make your giving count to both charities and your company in a simple, safe and strategic way.