Cause marketing is a strategy for resonating with customers through a company or brand’s support of a charity or nonprofit organization. Nonprofits benefit from the exposure a sponsor’s marketing platform provides, and it has become a valuable source of funding as government funding and individual donations have been squeezed during the recession. Cause marketing is beneficial to the companies involved because it creates goodwill for their brands and often creates incremental sales when donations to a cause are contingent on product sales (e.g., 10% of sales during a time period are donated to the sponsored cause).
The payoffs of cause marketing mentioned here have been recognized for some time. Another payoff is becoming clear: consumers expect companies that they do business with to be involved in supporting causes and they want to buy products from companies that are active in cause marketing. Cone, Inc. has conducted research into consumers’ attitudes toward cause marketing for nearly 20 years. In its most recent study, Cone found that 83% of consumers want more of the companies that they do business with to be involved in supporting causes; 41% said they have purchased a product within the past year because of the seller’s involvement in supporting a cause. That percentage is noteworthy because it is double what it was when Cone first started tracking consumer response to cause marketing. Moms and millennials are two consumer segments particularly interested in companies’ cause support. The percentages of consumers that have favorable views of cause marketing, desire to buy brands associated with causes, and actual purchase behavior of brands sponsoring causes are higher than the general population.
The takeaways from the recent Cone study are clear: consumers expect companies to support causes, and they want to buy products and services from companies engaged in cause support. Other studies have found that one impact of the recession is that many people have re-examined priorities and seek more meaning in their lives. Marketers should re-examine their priorities, too, and ask how they can use cause marketing to bring greater significance to their business impact. The potential exists for cause marketing to touch the nonprofit organizations supported, consumers who buy products linked to cause support, employees, and most importantly, the constituents served by the nonprofits.
Media Buyer Planner – “Consumers Support Companies that Support a Cause, Finds Study”