What is Cause Marketing?

Cause marketing is a combination of marketing and philanthropy. It is a subset of marketing, where a company aims to both market their products and services, and better society at the same time. This comes in many different forms, including message-focused campaigns to raise awareness of certain world issues, or it can be donation-based, where customers give as a part of their purchase. Cause marketing was first created in the 70’s, and has been on the rise ever since. Multiple surveys and data points show customers are more likely to buy from a company that is seen as generous or socially responsible, than one that is not. That is the basic concept behind cause marketing.

How Cause Marketing Works

  1. It has a philanthropic angle

    Cause marketing can only exist if there is a philanthropic angle that aims to better society in some way. Cause marketing brings a for-profit business in collaboration with a non-profit business, to the betterment of both. Cause marketing can be done in a number of ways, including Transactional Campaigns, Point of Sale Campaigns, Message-Focused Campaigns, Portion of Purchase, Pin Ups, Buy One Give One, Volunteerism and Digital Engagement.

  2. It is mutually beneficial

    Cause marketing allows both entities, the for-profit business and the non-profit, mutual benefit. The for-profit business is able to build its brand as a generous or caring organization, while also spreading its name. At the same time, the non-profit is given some sort of free donation of time or resource, and publicity. In many cases, cause marketing will cost a business time or money to build campaigns, make donations or drive customers to donate for free. But, the business will benefit in other ways, like building a positive image or gaining publicity. According to a 2010 study by Cone Nonprofit Marketing Trend Tracker, 78% of consumers reported that a partnership between a nonprofit and a company that they trust makes a cause stand out.

  3. It is sincere

    Cause marketing must be sincere in order for a company to benefit from it. If consumers feel a company is running a cause marketing campaign solely for their own benefit, the campaign can backfire, and consumers will see the company as insincere. It is important that a company chooses a cause that aligns with their proven values to champion. This way, the campaign will come off as authentic, not a ploy for publicity.

Why Cause Marketing Matters

  1. Social responsibility is increasingly valuable

    The world is increasingly valuing social responsibility, in companies big and small. The desire to make a difference is proven time and time again in successful cause marketing campaigns. Take TOMS shoes for example. TOMS is a for-profit company with a social purpose. The buy one, give one cause marketing campaign drew international media interest, and catapulted the company's products around the world. Less than 10 years after it's first sale, TOMS was estimated to be worth $625 million.

  2. It tackles major problems

    Cause marketing gives some stability to nonprofits aiming to tackle major issues. Social media and 24-hour news cycles are bringing increasing awareness to issues that plague communities and groups of people across the world. But non-profits that tackle these problems can be unstable on their own. Bringing in a for-profit partner can give a non-profit support and financial stability, and the freedom to continue tackling the world's problems.

  3. It can improve a company's image

    Cause marketing can improve a company's image in ways that other marketing campaigns cannot. Cause marketing shows consumers the company is interested in more than just its own benefit, and is willing to give time or money to a good cause. This sort of brand building is extremely difficult to do in other types of campaigns.