A former boss of mine (at a nonprofit) once declared that I have the “nonprofit gene” – meaning I was willing to forego a for-profit income for the chance to live out my passion on a “nonprofit salary.” And while I now work in the for-profit sector, I like to think I still have that gene – it just manifests itself now through my interest in cause marketing. That interest leads me to follow a number of different cause marketing blogs and other resources, and I was particularly intrigued by Cone’s recent release of its 2010 Cause Evolution Study.
Happily, it revealed that even with the tough economy of the past few years, cause marketing is alive and well – and still very much supported by consumers. Some of the encouraging statistics revealed by the study include:
• 88 percent of Americans say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing
• 85 percent have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about
• 80 percent are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause
• 61 percent say they would be willing to try a new brand or one unfamiliar to them when it supports a cause
Drilling down a bit further, the study reveals the market segments that are largely driving this support for cause marketing initiatives:
• Moms: 95 percent of moms find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88 percent average), and 92 percent want to buy a product supporting a cause (vs. 81 percent average). In addition, moms purchased more cause-related products in the past year than any other demographic (61 percent vs. 41 percent average).
• Millennials (18-24 years old): 94 percent find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88 percent average), and more than half (53 percent) have bought a product benefiting a cause this year (vs. 41 percent average).
Beyond the consumer, cause marketing can play an important role in recruiting and retention as well. In fact, 69 percent of Americans consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. Perhaps even more compelling – 92 percent of employees say they feel a strong sense of loyalty to their company (vs. 61 percent for those whose companies are not involved in supporting a cause).
It seems that more and more companies are understanding just how powerful cause marketing can be – in terms of social good, yes, but also in terms of benefit to the company’s bottom line and employee satisfaction. At GroundFloor Media, we work with a number of nonprofit agencies in various capacities, and it is always gratifying to see the support they receive from other for-profit companies. For instance, we’ve watched our pro bono partner, Tennyson Center for Children, develop wonderful, mutually beneficial partnerships with several for-profit companies over the years, including Noble Energy, PCL Construction Enterprises and Blu SKY Restoration Contractors.
Finally, in advising clients regarding cause marketing endeavors, we always encourage them to select a nonprofit or overall cause that aligns well with their business and target market. For instance with our client Qdoba, GroundFloor Media administered an extensive Zoomerang survey to 7,500 franchise and corporate employees to determine what cause Qdoba employees were most passionate about. Upon completion of the survey, youth and family initiatives were identified as the chosen area of charity focus, and Starlight Children’s Foundation was ultimately chosen to be Qdoba’s national nonprofit partner. The results of the Cone survey support this approach – 91 percent of respondents said that a company should consider supporting an issue that is a) important in the communities where it does business, as well as b) one that is aligned with its business practices.
What about your experience with cause marketing? Does what you’ve seen in the marketplace reflect the results of the Cone study? We’d like to hear your thoughts!