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Baker's delight embraces a good cause
Baker's delight embraces a good cause

Cause and effect: Mastering cause marketing

Aligning with a charity was once a great way to promote product – but is no longer enough to impress customers. MEGAN BRENIG discusses how brands can overcome consumer scepticism about cause marketing.

Cause marketing is when a commercial business joins forces with a charity or non-profit organisation for a mutually-beneficial outcome; namely, the company benefits from being viewed as philanthropic and the charity benefits from increased attention to, and support for, its cause.

The ‘pink product’ breast cancer-awareness campaign, which partners with companies like David Jones, Mount Franklin and Baker’s Delight, is one of the most well-known examples, and if you’ve flown with Qantas, you will have been asked to donate to UNICEF with their Change for Good campaign.

Indeed, cause marketing has become so commonplace that customers are experiencing a sense of ‘cause fatigue’, which has resulted in less participation.

Companies must think outside the box to overcome scepticism, ensuring cause-marketing campaigns are genuine and innovative.

Who responds to cause marketing?

In Australia, 55 per cent of men and 75 per cent of women prefer to purchase a brand that supports a charity, and 24 per cent have switched brands in the past year due to support for a charity, according to research from Cancer Council.

A report from London market-research firm Mintel found Millennial parents to be the group most impacted by cause marketing – some 69 per cent of Millennial mums and 81 per cent of Millennial dads say that cause-related campaigns influence their decisions either occasionally or frequently.

Consumers who value relationships, self-fulfilment and security respond best to cause marketing.

The issues with cause marketing

Research shows a level of scepticism among customers, who often believe that companies engage in cause marketing to make the business look better. Customers are poised to punish or praise businesses for their cause marketing efforts and it can be complicated for brands to combat this scepticism.

"There are now so many companies supporting causes that customers might not be paying attention any more – the message gets lost in the noise"

Another obstacle is that there are now so many companies supporting causes that customers may no longer be paying attention any more.

In order for customers to consider cause marketing as a factor in their purchasing decisions, campaigns must make an impression and resonate on a personal level. If not, the message gets lost in the noise or plainly rejected and repeated attempts may even drive customers away.

Scepticism is also a problem for charities themselves. The rise of websites and tools that measure the effectiveness of non-profits and track spending on administrative costs suggests that scepticism is not limited to for-profit companies.

How to stand out

Find a related cause – According to research, 60 per cent of respondents feel that a campaign is more genuine when a business supports a cause that is somehow related to its product, such as a sunscreen brand partnering with a skin-cancer organisation. While it is important to select causes with broad appeal, it is crucial that a company does not simply pick the cause du jour if the ultimate goal is to be viewed as genuine.

Commit – If there is a monetary cap that must be reached in order for your organisation to donate to the partner cause, think again.

When it comes to cause-marketing strategies, customers like companies to commit to making a large donation regardless of the number of products sold.

Customers want cause-marketing campaigns to be genuine and aligned with a cause or project that the company management actually believes in.

If the company is seen to be contributing, customers will likely respond more, which will ultimately boost sales.

Get your cause approved – In an effort to quell scepticism, some organisations are working to certify cause-marketing programs. Customers may be less sceptical of cause-marketed products if they carry a ‘stamp of approval’ from a respected third-party organisation such as Fairtrade.

Supporting a cause can be a great promotional initiative; however, nowadays, it seems necessary to ‘go big or go home’ to truly impress customers. Businesses must consider how they will combat scepticism and consumer apathy when launching cause-marketing initiatives.

Campaigns must be genuine and innovative to leave an impression on customers.

Megan Breinig

Contributor • 

Megan Breinig has four years’ experience in PR and marketing. She has made key contributions to blogs, social media campaigns and the implementation of PR strategies for clients. Visit: meganbreinig.wordpress.com

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Tuesday, 14 July, 2020 04:08am
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