Cause-related shopping on the rise, survey reveals

BOSTON: An increasing number of holiday shoppers are planning on purchasing a product from companies that donate a percentage of their profits to a cause, with women and African-Americans again ranking among the greatest supporters of this practice.

BOSTON: An increasing number of holiday shoppers are planning on purchasing a product from companies that donate a percentage of their profits to a cause, with women and African-Americans again ranking among the greatest supporters of this practice.

BOSTON: An increasing number of holiday shoppers are planning on

purchasing a product from companies that donate a percentage of their

profits to a cause, with women and African-Americans again ranking among

the greatest supporters of this practice.



These were among the main findings of the 1999 Cone Holiday Trend

Tracker, a survey measuring the effect that companies’ cause-related

branding programs have on consumer purchasing decisions and

attitudes.



The survey, now in its third year, found that 68% of Americans expect to

purchase a product in which a percentage of the price is donated to a

cause, up 33% from 1997. In addition, 63% of consumers plan to buy from

a retailer closely affiliated with a cause, up 17% from 1997.



Cone CEO Carol Cone attributed the results to three main elements: an

increase in companies initiating cause programs in order to

differentiate themselves from competitors; companies continuing with

cause initiatives based on previous positive experiences; and a changing

consumer persona in which more shoppers expect companies to give back to

society.



Not surprisingly, women - who, according to Cone, make 80% of purchasing

decisions - are more likely than men to consider a company’s giving

record in their purchasing decisions (76% vs. 66%). Women are also more

likely to shop from a retailer associated with a good cause (67% vs.

58%) and purchase a holiday gift associated with a good cause (67% vs.

58%).



African-Americans are also more likely to purchase a product in which a

percentage of the price is donated to a cause (82% vs. 68%), shop from a

charity-minded retailer (74% vs. 63%) and buy gifts associated with a

good cause (72% vs. 63%).



’If companies respond in a unique way to segments of consumers - whether

ethnic, geographic or in terms of areas of interest - consumers will pay

them back handsomely,’ said Cone.



Also interesting to note is that Americans are following through with

their intention to support a social issue through cause-related

shopping.



Of the 60% of respondents who planned to purchase a holiday gift

associated with a cause in 1998, 54% reported that they did.



And while 71% of respondents said they would consider a company’s

reputation for charitable donations when buying holiday gifts (up 27%

from 1997), 88% said that this is something they will consider

throughout the year.



’Being philanthropic is almost expected during the holidays,’ said Cone.

’Companies shouldn’t make it part of their promotions, but part of their

brand.’



The survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International

via a national telephone sampling of more than 1,000 people between

November 11 and 14.



Cone pointed to several examples of holiday-related cause initiatives:

Macys.com is providing consumers with a 10% discount for donations of at

least dollars 10 to Macy’s Hunger-Free Holiday program; eToys is

discounting toys by 50% when online purchasers use their Visa card for

donation to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots; and JC Penney is

contributing dollars 2 from each cash purchase of the CD A Very Rudolph

Christmas to CAN DO Afterschool, an initiative designed to improve the

quality of after-school programs.



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