Consumers still have appetite for cause marketing

BOSTON: Consumers think companies should keep up their cause-marketing work, even during a recession, according to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study.

BOSTON: Consumers think companies should keep up their cause-marketing work, even during a recession, according to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study. More than 80% of Americans have the same or even higher expectations for companies when it comes to cause marketing during tough economic times.

Additionally, despite the high saturation of cause campaigns and nonprofit programs, 83% of consumers still want to see more brands, products, and companies support worthy causes.

"We were really encouraged to find that consumers' support of cause activities was still the same, and in some instances increased, coming out of the recession," said Alison DaSilva, EVP at Cone. "As cause-marketing has gone mainstream, there's still tremendous opportunity and the stakes have been raised."

Consumers are putting their money where their mouth is, with 41% having purchased a product or service because it was associated with a cause during the last 12 months. That is double the 20% of respondents who did the same in 1993. The 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study was conducted in July 2010 and surveyed more than 1,000 US adults.

The survey also found that, if a company was associated with a good cause, 80% of respondents would switch from one brand to another, 61% would be willing to buy a brand they've never heard of, and 19% would be willing to buy a more expensive brand.

When it comes to what specific causes a company should support, consumers seem to enjoy the voting programs that have become popular, such as Pepsi Refresh and Chase Community Giving.

"That's so telling that consumers want to be engaged," DaSilva said, "but I question the sustainability of that." Indeed, companies are well-served to find a cause that is important to their stakeholders, but also aligns with the business and the brand. In fact, the study found that 61% of respondents would prefer to see a company make a long-term commitment to a focused issue, rather than voting for the chosen cause.
    
For the first time in the 17 year history of this survey, Cone also broke out Moms as a separate segment for the survey, and found that the group is most amenable to cause marketing. Ninety-five percent of moms find cause marketing acceptable, compared to 88% of consumers overall. Millennials are also an important segment for cause marketing, as 94% find it acceptable.

DaSilva said, "They are universally and unanimously supporting of cause marketing."

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