Heart & Hearth Why Social Conscience Matters in Home Furnishings


While the store of the future may be laden with technology and gadgets to make shopping easier and more enjoyable, the heart of the home furnishing store still matters.

Why? As shoppers evolve to change shopping and, subsequently, buying habits, brands must adapt to the rising tide. In the economy of the future, quality and price are no longer viable drivers. Shoppers are looking for retail with a soul.

What is Social Conscience?

As defined by Merriam-Webster, social conscience is “caring or concern about important social issues.”

This is relevant to you, dear retailer, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Shoppers now support or boycott retailers/brands for expressing political views that are or are not in alignment with their personal beliefs and social consciousness.

  2. Shoppers make buying decisions based on product origin and sustainability more now than ever before. In fact, according to a Nielsen poll, 73% of millennial shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainable products.   

Translation: The correct alignment could prove profitable, though in an age when authenticity matters, marketer beware. Find truth in your alignment first.  

What makes a socially responsible retailer?

Two major factors contribute to a retailer’s ranking as socially responsible:

  1. Alignment with a purpose-driven initiative that may be created internally or in support of someone else’s mission.

  2. Putting money where the mouth is. A percentage of profits fund the company’s civic-minded and sustainable missions and initiatives.

Not only does this type of participation make you a more desirable retailer, it also makes you a more desirable employer. People want to work for (and with) companies committed to the greater good.

Give me an example.

Toms Shoes and Warby Parker have a one for one policy that gives product to people in need.

Quicken Loans and Amber Engine have robust volunteer programs that help restore, rebuild and re-energize Detroit, Michigan - the community these companies call home.

Tiffany & Co. has a zero-tolerance policy for diamonds purchased from countries with human rights infringements.

But, I’m a small retailer, what does ‘socially responsible’ mean for me?

Every company has a capacity for sustainable choices and charitable acts – regardless of size. To begin, figure out what you’re passionate about, what matters to you and what matters to your people. Then, align your business with an initiative that serves the greater good. Finally, communicate those intentions to your audience.

  • Perhaps you sell the work of local artisans – tell the story of working with members of the community.

  • Are the products you sell made of recycled, organic or reclaimed materials? Talk about your sustainability efforts.

  • Do you shop and sell products in line with Fair Trade standards? Share the story of growing global awareness.

When you operate as a socially responsible company, engagement grows. Your brand begins to create more emotional connections with customers to create long-lasting loyalty.

And don’t worry, expressing your social conscience DOESN’T mean you’re:

  1. Passing up profits - OR

  2. A company full of hippies and tree huggers.

It DOES mean that you’re moving your store forward in a socially responsible way. When stores adopt a social conscience, they move toward a brighter future than our predecessors ever imagined.

So, put a little heart in your home furnishing and home décor!

The payoff?

It’s priceless.