Social Consumerism Or Capitalism?

Recently, while on a walk with my family, we stopped at a coffee shop for a quick snack. My wife and kids went in, while I stayed outside with the dog. Five minutes later, my daughter came out with a “pupcake.” She told me that this tiny cupcake (literally smaller than a munchkin with a little peanut butter on top) was $1.25, and that 50 cents went to the local animal shelter. She was very proud of her purchase — and I was proud of her, too. But, I had a different perspective of the coffee shop.

Today, there is a lot of talk about “social consumerism.” But, at what point is social consumerism really capitalism in disguise?

Is it really “giving” if you are just using it as an opportunity to “take”? In the case of the coffee shop, these pupcakes probably cost less than 10 cents to make. No one is going into the shop just to get a pupcake. They’re making plenty of profit on the coffee, sandwiches and other baked goods they sell. But, instead of giving 100% of the money from the pupcakes to the shelter (or at least 100% of the profit), they keep 75 cents for themselves. Is that really giving back?



Since starting a cancer-related non-profit, I’ve come to learn that doing good actually helps you do well. It was never my intent, but I’ve discovered that when you do good…

1.  You meet people you would have otherwise never met
You open yourself up to a new circle of people. And, you never know who you may meet in the process.

2.  You form deeper relationships with people
The strongest relationships are built upon shared beliefs. And strong relationships are the foundation of most any business.

3.  It builds a stronger culture in the workplace
Working together on a meaningful cause can be very empowering, satisfying and enjoyable – which leads to a much more collegial and pleasant environment.

4.  Everyone feels better about themselves
And, when you feel good about yourself, it shows in your work.

5.  You reap unexpected rewards
Whether it be a note from someone who you helped, or an article in the local newspaper, the rewards of giving back are endless.

With all of the above benefits, doing good will surely have a positive impact on your business.  But you have to do it for the right reasons. The moment you do it for the wrong reasons, the opposite can happen.

Time to try a new coffee shop.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and perspectives here.

Have a great day!

1 comment about "Social Consumerism Or Capitalism?".
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  1. Ty Christian from 1954, July 7, 2014 at 1:27 p.m.

    Jeff, very interesting review and something to ponder. The question of doing well to do good, when does it sink in and become relevant to us as individuals and/or a company? It sounds great and even looks pretty on a fridge magnet. Me personally, it was in my late 50's and about a year out from completing the MLK Memorial on the National Mall after an a 11 year tenure. I was making better than average money. But after receiving an old photo from a classmate, it didn't hit me that I was working on something much bigger than myself and all my little personal agendas, issues, ego, and insecurities. The photo was from around '69 when the president of the MLK Memorial Foundation and I were on a class trip to DC. In looking at that photo and to think that he and I some 40+ years later were back in DC raising $120 million to build a memorial to a man who was responsible for getting us in that private HS we attended. It was a religious experience when I realized the project wasn't about money, but working on something much bigger than us both. I was creating a legacy. We were both doing well and doing something "good" that would be here for generations to come. Never in our widest dreams, we ever dream that we would be great friends for such a long period of time, but create history together. With all the confusion of cause marketing, corporate social responsibility, branding, and the many other marketing "thangs." It may take some time for the essence of "doing well to do good" to sink in on both a personal and corporate front. It is in the DNA of a for-profit entity to make a buck off of something! That is how they keep score. Although, not perfect in their efforts or execution, it is the thought that counts. Plus .50 cent is better than nothing. It would take some time before we all learn to get out of the way and fully embrace, we can do well to do good. Keep up the great work. Ty

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