Our graphic design intern, Meagan Trotta, is studying marketing at the College of Charleston and has recently completed a research project about cause-related marketing campaigns. We obviously care a lot about this subject at TRIO and were excited to learn about Meagan’s insights! Here’s what Meagan dug up on the subject:
The idea behind cause-related marketing was best explained in Marketing 3.0 by Philip Kotler. In the book, Kotler wrote that marketing must engage people in ways that provide “solutions to their anxiety to make the globalized world a better place.” Through my research, I found this to have been proven true many times over.
Beginning in 1983, the concept was introduced into the mass market by American Express. American Express used the term “cause-related marketing” to describe their campaign to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. American Express donated one cent to the restoration efforts every time someone used their charge card. As a result, the number of new cardholders grew by 45 percent and card usage increased by 28 percent. Talk about a win-win!
Since then, the idea of cause-related marketing has remained relevant. Today, 66 percent of people say that they would switch from a product they typically buy to a new product from a purpose-driven company.
While companies can obviously benefit from an economic gain, that’s not entirely the point of cause-related marketing. We should be focusing on creating long-term, purpose-driven programs that allow brands to grow while also working to better our societies. This is particularly relevant now since millennials are increasingly looking to businesses as a positive force for social impact. When brands engage in social issues, they are more likely to earn their trust and loyalty. That’s probably why 97 percent of marketing executives believe cause marketing is a valid business strategy.
It’s important to note that a cause-related marketing campaign is not the same thing as philanthropy. Where philanthropy is the generous act of donating to a charity, cause-related marketing is the marketing of a for-profit business to create social change or to benefit a non-profit in some positive way.
If you intend to incorporate a cause-related marketing strategy into your business, it’s imperative that you strive for authenticity. If you don’t have the actual desire or feasibility to create the change you are aiming for, consumers won’t feel the passion or see the connection.
It’s also important that the change you are aiming to make is rooted in measurable, transparent goals. Customers need to clearly understand how the program works and what their roles are in helping to achieve these goals, especially since the market is a little skeptical: only 34 percent of surveyed consumers feel that their purchases make an impact when the brand supports a cause that they believe in.
A good example of a company that has proven to be authentic in its cause campaigns is General Mills. General Mills’ products feed millions of school children and its long-running “Box Tops for Education” program has earned over $800 million for the nation’s schools since 1996. When the campaign makes sense and also makes a difference, success is bound to follow
Cause sponsorship is predicted to reach $2.23 billion this year (that’s a projected increase of 4.6 percent over 2018!). Cause marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most important aspects of business strategy for businesses today. After all, it allows for the potential to build your business while also being a force for positive social impact.
Now is a great time to get your business involved in cause-related campaigns and we know just the agency to help you put it all together! To learn more about our services and expertise, give us a ring at (843) 216-0442 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.