Have you ever purchased a pair of Toms shoes? Or Warby Parker glasses? Remember when the Honey Nut Cheerios bee disappeared from cereal boxes? Or that one time you were waiting in line at Walgreens and you noticed a large poster of Ben Stiller wearing a red clown nose behind the register?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, congratulations. You’ve been exposed to cause marketing.
Everywhere you look, brands are investing in cause-marketing efforts. This marketing strategy partners brands with another group, typically a non-profit, to bring attention and donations to a cause — all while increasing awareness and sales for the brand.
When you buy a pair of Toms shoes or Warby Parker glasses, they donate another pair to someone in need. To date, they’ve sold and given away millions of shoes and glasses. About 30% of General Mills ingredients rely on pollination — something bees do. When 42% of bee colonies in the U.S. collapsed, General Mills removed their mascot from cereal boxes to bring awareness to the issue. Their #BringBacktheBees campaign also gave customers free Veseys wildflower seeds to plant so bees would have more flowers to feast on. The campaign created a lot of, ahem, buzz.
Okay, so cause-marketing strategies worked for those brands. But is it right for yours?
The short answer: probably.
In a survey by AdWeek, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they regularly or sometimes actively sought out brands that support certain causes. And half of people surveyed were likelier to purchase from a brand that supported a cause they believe in. If your target is millennials, you should definitely consider a cause-marketing campaign. Compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers, millennials are more willing to spend time researching brands to see what causes they support. And if they find a brand and cause they agree with, they’re willing to pay more for their products … and more willing to sacrifice on the quality of those products.
Other benefits of cause-marketing campaigns include:
When you make your brand look good by doing good, it improves customer relations and public perception.
Red Nose Day is an iconic campaign to end child poverty, started by a non-profit called Comic Relief. In order to buy a red nose to support the cause, you had to go to Walgreens. Last year, Walgreens sold over 12 million red noses at their stores. More people in your store means more opportunities for sales.
If a customer can flex their philanthropic muscle while doing something as simple as buying shoes, odds are they’ll choose the brand that allows them to.
Now, which cause to choose?
A vast majority of charitable causes need support. From hunger to homelessness, environmental sustainability, animal rights, wildlife protection, policy change, religious charity and countless more to choose from. Whatever cause your brand chooses to back, be sure it aligns with your brand’s values.
And be sure your campaign is authentic, iconic and original. If you want to do a campaign featuring Ben Stiller with a clown nose, maybe keep brainstorming.