Even As Cause Marketing Grows, 9-in-10 Moms Want More Opportunities To Buy Products Benefiting A Cause
According to the new 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, the nation's only 17-year benchmark of cause marketing attitudes and behaviors, forty-one percent (41%) of Americans say they have purchased a product in the past year because it was associated with a social or environmental cause. This finding represents a two-fold increase since Cone first began measuring in 1993. But even as their purchasing power grows, consumer appetite for socially conscious shopping has yet to be satisfied. A full 83 percent of consumers want more of the products, services and retailers they use to benefit causes.
| Posted in Marketing on Sep 23, 2010
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The nation's ongoing economic woes have not deterred Americans' social sentiment, or their expectations that companies will benefit society. Eighty-one percent said companies should financially support causes at the same level or higher during an economic downturn. It appears business rose to this challenge – nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers believe companies responded well to social and environmental issues during the recession.
Americans' enthusiasm for cause marketing continues to strongly influence their purchase decisions:
• 88% say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing.
• 85% have a more positive image of a product or company that supports a cause they care about.
• 80% are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause.
Not only are consumers willing to switch among similar brands, they are also willing to step outside their comfort zones. When it supports a cause:
• 61% of Americans say they would be willing to try a new brand or one unfamiliar to them;
• 46% would try a generic or private-label brand; and,
• Nearly one-in-five consumers (19%) would be willing to purchase a more expensive brand.
"When price and quality are equal, we know most consumers will choose the product benefiting the cause," explains Alison DaSilva, executive vice president at Cone. "But cause alignment can have an even bigger influence on consumer choice, pushing them to experiment with something different and unfamiliar. Cause branding is a prime opportunity for companies to extend beyond their traditional market and increase exposure to potential new consumers."
Most Cause-Conscious Consumers
By all measures, moms lead the way as the demographic most amenable to cause marketing. In fact, moms virtually demand the opportunity to shop with a cause in mind. A staggering 95 percent find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88% average), and 92 percent want to buy a product supporting a cause (vs. 81% average). They are also more likely to switch brands (93% vs. 80% average), so it is hardly surprising that moms purchased more cause-related products in the past year than any other demographic (61% vs. 41% average).
Millennials (18-24 years old) are close on moms' heels as they also shop with an eye toward the greater good. Ninety-four percent find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88% average) and more than half (53%) have bought a product benefiting a cause this year (vs. 41% average).
A company's support of social or environmental issues is also likely to influence this group's decisions outside the store, including where to work (87% vs. 69% average) and where to invest (79% vs. 59% average).
Issues That Stand The Test of Time
Even as businesses face a set of complex new issues, consumers remain steadfast in their expectations of what companies should address. They continue to want companies to prioritize support of issues close to home, in local communities (46%) and in the U.S. (37%), but they are gradually recognizing the need for companies to address issues globally, as well (17%). The leading causes consumers want companies to support include:
• Economic development – 77%
• Health and disease – 77%
• Hunger – 76%
• Education – 75%
• Disaster relief – 73%
• Environment – 73%
Americans may feel some of these issues personally, but they also recognize the impact a company can have when it supports a business-aligned issue. They are equally likely to say that a company should consider supporting an issue that is important in the communities where it does business (91%), as well as one that is aligned with its business practices (91%).
"Cause branding is standing the test of time, but leadership companies must continue to innovate to ensure their programs offer an original consumer experience, tackle tough emerging issues and make bold new commitments," says DaSilva. "Those that are most successful and meeting the competing needs of many stakeholders are aligning issues with the business for mutual benefit and integrating these efforts into a larger corporate responsibility strategy for maximum impact."
For a free copy of the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution study, please visit www.coneinc.com/research.
Cone LLC (www.coneinc.com) is a strategy and communications agency engaged in building brand trust. Cone creates stakeholder loyalty and long-term relationships through the development and execution of Cause Branding, Brand Marketing, Corporate Responsibility, Nonprofit Marketing and Crisis Prevention and Management initiatives. Cone is a part of the Omnicom Group (www.omnicomgroup.com ).
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