By Mark Brunetz, National Spokesperson, DFAD
“The world of business is changing – don’t get left behind.” – Dale Partridge
When it comes to running a business, it’s all about the numbers. Here at the International Design Guild (IDG), our 60+ showroom members are reporting exponential growth and revenue and we are incredibly grateful. As small business owners, it’s equally as important for us to share our commitment and success so that they may support and inspire other like-minded business owners. To this end, let’s take a moment to reflect on the confluence of efforts and circumstances that have brought us to this point.
According to NDP (Net Domestic Product), the home improvement industry experienced an unprecedented 22% increase in revenue in 2020 compared to the previous year. In the throes of the pandemic, people were forced to work from home, affording them the opportunity spend more time focused on their homes and yards. According to GlobalData, 77.2% of people in 2020 took on at least one home improvement project; everything from light gardening to full-scale renovations. This was up from 68.2% of consumers undertaking similar projects in 2019.
As experts look to quantify this uptick in the market, empirically connecting the dots between marketing dollars, subsequent sales and return on investment (ROI) remains somewhat elusive. In fact, most experts would agree that there were clearly intangible issues at play. And because cause marketing initiatives like Design For A Difference (DFAD) focus on issues and impact which are measured by more than profit, we in no way assumed that these efforts for good required a trade-off that neglects our company’s bottom line.
Here at the Guild, we know that when we connect with customers through issues and causes that we mutually care about, we create deeper and more personal relationships; more than just a seller–buyer transaction. And that relationship, along with the trust and loyalty it fosters, is what holds so much value. In fact, here are some hard statistics that show why 9 out of 10 executives in the U.S. agree that companies with social impact programs have a competitive advantage:
- 87% of consumers will buy a product from a specific company because the company is supporting a cause that’s relevant to them. Here at IDG, we understood that responding to the most compelling issues of the moment was incredibly important. In light of COVID-19, we expanded DFAD to not only transform spaces at charities, but also provide free flooring for deserving community heroes like first responders and essential workers with the launch of our virtual Community Heroes ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’ Campaign.
- Millennials are the largest generation group in the US. with an estimated population of 80+ million. They also represent the largest buying sector with 50% of new mortgage purchases going to millennials. According to the Case Foundation study, caring for social issues ranks highest amongst millennials along with valuing collective action and believing that all actions matter—big and small. To date over 100 students and counting from various design schools in the US have participated in a DFAD projects; many of whom are millennials with integrated social networks. This is in addition other DFAD participants who fall into this category.
- Cause-driven workers are 54% more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30% more likely to grow into high performers than those who arrive at work with only their paychecks as the motivator. In addition to record-breaking sales, our IDG members have reported scenarios where potential employees made the decision to work at the IDG showroom based solely on their community work with DFAD.
- Purpose-oriented businesses have 40% higher retention rates than their counterparts who fail to integrate broader purpose into their businesses. A strong indicator of this is the fact that over 50% of our IDG showrooms and their staff who have engaged in DFAD projects have gone on to do follow-up DFAD projects over the span of the next 3-5 years.
- 85% of executives believe purpose-driven leadership drives profit in a company. Launched in 2013, the executive team at IDG has fully supported the development and impact of DFAD subsequently declaring the grass roots initiative a pillar of the organization in 2018.
With that said, we ask ourselves, what have we learned here at IDG that may very well make a difference in the work we continue to do and, if it hasn’t already happened, inspire other small businesses to engage in cause marketing initiatives like DFAD.
- Successful cause marketing is rooted in doing good.
- Consistency and alignment are key.
- Lead by example. Don’t wait for others.
- ROI is more than financial.
- Good will is pervasive and difficult to track with only a few.
- Keep an eye on the big picture.
As giving in 2020 hit a record $471 billion, up 5.1% over 2019, we all want to know that our business and marketing decisions are effective. We understand the importance of tracking sales in addition to positive impact including but not limited to staff morale, social awareness, personal and professional growth, lives impacted and changed, and above all, good will. And while we reap the benefits of what we have put forth over the past several years; we as an organization remain committed to holding true to what matters most—people.
Stay tuned for our DFAD updated milestones to be published in early 2022.
Mark Brunetz is the National Spokesperson for Design for a Difference.
He is a well-known interior designer who is dedicated and passionate about not only creating stunning designs that suit his client’s needs, but also giving back to the community.