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Cause Marketing by the Numbers - What's In It for Me?

There is a common belief that corporations must do everything with an eye to producing profits for shareholders. But that is not so. In fact, in its opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court stated: "Modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and many do not." Brands can (and should) include cause marketing in their promotional campaigns. (And you don't need to tell anyone, but doing so will probably increase your product awareness and bottom line!)

Consumer studies have shown:

  • 83% want more companies to support causes.
  • 89% would switch to a similar brand that is associated with a good cause.
  • 42% (and 70% of women) would pay more for a product that supports a cause.
  • 90% of college students pay more attention to ads that support a cause.
  • 69% of millennials want businesses to make it easier for them to get involved in societal causes.
  • 75% of consumers are OK with a brand profiting for associating with a cause.
  • A possible 75% increase in sales.

Wow!! What else, you ask, can cause marketing do for my business. Well, you can access new audiences (and I don't just mean vegans and tree huggers), you can increase your brand awareness (a long-term affiliation with a product-related charity is very powerful), you can form new strategic partnerships, and you can use your social awareness as a great marketing tool to attract those socially-conscious millennials.

But don't just go into this blindly. There is another startling statistic that revealed that only 10% of consumers believe cause marketing campaigns are sincere. Yikes! Here are a few tips for creating a successful cause marketing campaign:

  • Team with a good cause that compliments your business. If you sell coffee, co-venture with a charity that supports local growers. If you sell junk food, don't team up with the American Diabetes Association.
  • Do more than just contribute money. Provide free products to the charity or sponsor a benefit event.
  • Work with the charity. Understand its needs and mission, and find out how the charity can help.
  • Consider a long-term association with a charity. (See Yoplait/Susan G. Komen)

Oh, yeah, it's also a good idea to team up with good lawyers (I had to add that). Over 30 states have laws regulating commercial co-ventures and registration is required in 6 states. There are also very specific requirements on what needs to be in your contract with a charity, what needs to be disclosed in advertising, and how often you have to make your donations to the charity. Of course, Verrill Dana can help with all of this, but no matter who you chose to work with – in the words of the immortal Sargent Phil Esterhaus from Hill Street Blues, "hey, let's be careful out there."

Topics: Advertising, Cause Marketing