Social Consumption: The convergence of guilt and pleasure

Monique Wahlen
Draftfcb Paris

The act of consuming for pleasure used to be one thing. The act of giving to help social causes, another.

Both have traditionally lived in the same world but remained separate and distinct.

However, we are now witnessing instances of the convergence of the two – where consumers buy for pleasure, and simultaneously give.

How can social causes benefit from this emerging shift in consumer behaviour?

The recession has impacted significantly on the fortunes of social causes. Charities in particular are suffering with figures from the US showing that donations fell by 5.7% in 2008 – the steepest decline in the history of Giving USA's annual survey, and a trend replicated in charitable organisations across Europe. However, in tandem with this decline, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their individual impact. As we look ever closer at how our actions affect others and the world, a heightened sense of conscious is emerging.