The people that changed the world didn't do it for profit

Tara Deveanu
Kubis Interactive

When I was a kid, my dad tried to explain to me that all people have flaws, ones that I would start noticing even before being able to tie my own shoe laces. But he never really explained it that well to me so, as soon as I learned how to read, he gave me a book containing some of Lev Tolstoy's short stories. One of the short stories in that book was about a fox that escaped from a trap without its tail and tried to convince the rest of the animals in the forest that they should get rid of their tails as well.

We don't live in a forest – and designer outfits, not fur, keep us warm – but sometimes we do what the fox did. We we try to convince the rest of the people around us of something in which we don't believe. From time to time, we even try to convince ourselves.

I look at all the surveys talking about the need for brands to become change agents for a better world in order to address the desires of their consumers. They remind me of the fox in Tolstoy's story. In March 2012, a Nielsen survey of 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries found out that over 55% of consumers were willing to buy from companies that give back and that over a third were willing to pay more for the products of companies that support social or environmental causes. In April 2012, an Edelman survey of 8,000 consumers from 16 countries (500 from each country) found out that 76% thought that it was alright for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time, and 87% considered that companies should place at least equal weight on business and society. The same survey stated that consumer personal involvement in various causes was on the rise all over the world, except the USA. The numbers were surprising: in China, 94% of respondents said that they were supporting a cause, 69% in the Netherlands and 65% in Brazil. The Cone Cause-Evolution Study brought other staggering numbers: 83% of Americans said they wish brands would support causes and 41% of them have bought a product because it was associated with a cause.