Feb 02 ,2017
Why the sudden interest in causes? The growing interest in social causes is not so sudden, and definitely not temporary.
As the generation that grew up alongside the internet boom as well as the expansion of CSR (corporate social responsibility) and serious conversations about the environmental impact of consumerism, millennials care about how they impact the world around them. They see that big picture change starts with how they spend their dollars. That’s why some retail brands have found success with cause marketing, despite their for-profit models. ‘Doing well and doing good’ is a mantra for millennials.
Social media has made it possible to have direct impact through seemingly ordinary purchases. These purchases make it easy, and convenient for consumers to make an impact. Efficiency is another reason why millennials are purchasing products and services that make it easier to do more. We’ve seen a growing trends in multipurpose tools such as tinted moisturizer and multimedia capable phones, and tools that just make life easier like “the cloud”. Brands must now offer solutions that serve the consumer and impact a social cause at the same time. Millennials require brands to get involved purposefully, simply giving is no longer enough.
Purpose driven brands that integrate a cause into their business model like TOMS communicate their mission instantly, and exhibit authenticity. (Read more about purpose driven brands.)
Why does this lie on the shoulders of brand and not government? Millennials believe “businesses have financial and technological resources to make change happen”, and millennials want to be involved. In return, millennials “reward brands that behave like good citizens with loyalty and positive word of mouth”.
Millennials are already using tools at hand like social media trying to be part of the solution. Viral campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge allowed millennials to do good by participating from anywhere in the world, as long as they posted their videos on social media. “Two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average” and 9 out of 10 are likely to switch to brands involved with causes.
Tired of hearing about millennials yet? Get ready to hear more for many, many years to come. Millennials are now the “largest living generation” in America and also represent the largest generation in the labor force. As their spending power increases, so must our attention.
And if just by chance you were planning on sitting this one out while the social cause phase passes on through, we’re warning you now, social causes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, Generation Z (Anyone under 20 years old as of now) shares similar views concerning social causes as their predecessors. Cause marketing now requires long term attention and thoughtful involvement from brands like yours.
Here are some model campaigns doing it right.
Oct 14 ,2016
Can you tell the difference? Is one better than the other?
Whether one is a better option for your brand over the other is for you to decide, but first you should be able to differentiate between the two to evaluate what they entail, and how each can be designed to perform well in terms of supporting business goals and making a lasting impact for your brand. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, “80% of global consumers agree that business must play a role in addressing societal issues”. The question is no longer if you should be involved in a cause, but how.
Purpose Driven Brands:
Successful purpose-driven brands are businesses that integrate a cause into their business model so well, that there can be no separation between the cause and brand without changing the very essence of the brand.
With a purpose driven brand, business operations are designed to meet a societal, environmental or humanitarian need. TOMS, for example, saw an explosion of success not because of unique style of superior quality of products, or even a lower price point than leading shoe companies, but because it sought to involve its consumer in a business model that countered what anyone was used to. It made money by giving away shoes, and became a brand that sought more than profit. TOMS set out to provide shoes for impoverished children through a sustainable model they called “one-for-one”. Under this model three primary parties benefitted: children living in extreme poverty were provided shoes, TOMS profited through a sustainable business model, and the consumer, as the driving force, could get a comfortable stylish shoe in exchange for “voting for good” with their purchase. Not only did TOMS take on a humanitarian issue, but it extended the opportunity for direct involvement to their consumers, a generation hungry for social change. In fact, 69% of millennials want business to make it easier for them to get involved in societal issues, and TOMS allowed them to do so by simply shopping for a casual pair shoes. The authenticity of TOMS’ commitment to change doesn’t stop with their own success, and it’s reflected in their commitment to invest in the “next generation” of social entrepreneurs. By continuing to invest their profit in social issues, the brand continues to convey the message that their primary goal is change, not profit.
Brands Supporting a Cause:
Brands that do not have an inherent purpose driven business model can still do good by creating a cause marketing campaign, or a temporary relationship with a cause. The key to a successful campaign is making sure the cause is culturally relevant, authentic to the brand, and consumers can get behind it. CVS for example made headlines when it decided to stop selling cigarettes. As a pharmacy, its mission is to connect people with products that help them on their path to better health. As such, tobacco went against their mission and was removed from their shelves. The corresponding campaign communicated that their mission was more important than profit, and that the company is committed to internal change to ensure that their operations align with their mission.
Good Solutions Group has worked with leading brands to create and execute cause marketing campaigns that garnered strong business results. GSG’s secret recipe for its campaigns consist of three main ingredients: involving consumers, driving business results, and choosing the right social cause. By identifying a cause that is inherently tied to the mission of the brand and is important to its consumers, GSG paves the way to help brands give back to a cause that has the potential to make a lasting impact not only for the community, but within the brand and for the consumers. This takes market research, listening and ability to understand the brand and its consumers well. For example, we understood Farmer John to be a brand that produced quality meats, food that brought families together to share meals. Grilling stations in Southern California beach communities needed maintenance, birthing a partnership that led to increased sales, positive PR coverage, and a service for the community.
Whether you’re an established company looking for some help with a cause campaign or a startup looking to change the world, there are plenty of opportunities to give back, build relationships with consumers and improve business. Contact us for a consultation.
May 20 ,2016
An organization that truly believes in its cause should seek to ensure that its practices support the cause within the business first.
An article recently published on Inc.com comments on the idea that marketing should be about a bigger concept – a movement. The Small Business Saturday movement is highlighted as evidence that consumers place high importance on business models that impact their communities. A brand name and competitive pricing are no longer enough.
For cause marketers, this information is nothing new, as signs of consumer interest in social responsibility have been growing over the past several years. Now, however, the cause must become part of the business model.
A company that donates to wildlife preservation for example, cannot develop source materials for products that are tested on animals, without risking backlash and loss of trust. Sometimes these conflicts aren’t as easy to spot, making an intentional and thorough review of business practices alongside cause efforts absolutely necessary to identify and address any contradicting messaging in brand image and business practices.
In 2014, a healthy foods influencer from foodbabe.com challenged Subway’s fresh food image and pointed out that Subway bread in the U.S. contained a chemical used to make rubber soles and yoga mats. The blogger Vani Hari says she “targeted Subway because of its image of serving healthy food.” As a brand advocating for a cause, its important to see that business practices are adjusted to enhance and support a commitment to a cause. Subway appropriately responded by creating a new recipe without the ingredient in question, and to better align its food items with its fresh food claim.
This opportunity to respond to issues that are important to target audiences is a big component of cause marketing. At Good Solutions Group, listening to the target audience comes before and throughout each step of the campaign to ensure that programs support and increase in value, transparency and alignment of goals to the consumer-brand relationship.
A sign of a successful cause marketing campaign immediately displays contribution toward reaching business objectives as it did in this campaign for Odwalla that aimed to plant trees across 50 of America’s parks. Odwalla, a healthful juice and food brand, was able to demonstrate its commitment to its environmental roots while delivering 200,000 food samples to its target market.
Beyond marketing, businesses depend on relationships with consumers and other stakeholders, and this move can support initiatives across different department within the organization, such as sales, community relations and public relations. Public Relations Society of America website states that “CSR activities must be aligned with the organization’s core mission, values, and service or product. These activities must work to achieve business objectives and should have measurable outcomes.”
Integration of corporate social responsibility efforts should change your business to make it better, to make your impact stronger, and to build trust and transparency with consumers and other stakeholders. Don’t know where to start? Give us a call.
Mar 09 ,2016
What is your company doing to help contribute toward the progression of social or environmental causes? If you can’t answer that question, you’re late to the party. Brand participation in social causes is no longer seen as a feel-good charitable act. It may be the reason consumers are choosing to switch brands.
According to a study released last spring by Cone Communications/Ebiquity on the issue of corporate social responsibility, today’s consumer would likely point to the latter: a brand known more for its social responsibility than for its name. How much more likely? Study findings reveal that “90 percent of global consumers would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price or quality.”
This is an opportunity for brands to communicate the values that are inherent to their company, any social initiatives they support, and the impact of their involvement. Cause marketing initiatives can help relay that information to reach target audiences through results-oriented methods. The suggestion here isn’t to pick a cause and run with it just for the sake of following a successful marketing trend (a trend that is here to stay by the way), but to develop a campaign that is informed by research and interests that appeal to your target market.
It doesn’t stop at becoming involved in social causes either; being able to communicate those initiatives and their results are key to successful cause marketing. An earlier study by Cone Communications indicated that “91 percent [want] to hear about companies’ CSR efforts and progress. However, for that communication to resonate, messages must be honest and clear”. Research also revealed that the preferred communication channels for this information, in ranking order, were product packaging/labels, media, advertising, social media, and mobile.
If you’re playing catch up, begin to consider the following:
- What causes is your brand affiliated with?
- Which are most relevant to your brand and internal values?
- Which do your target audience value most?
Cause marketing experts can help you figure that out to find your starting point before moving on to communicating your causes to your consumer market. For examples of successful cause-marketing campaigns, take a look at how Good Solutions Group helped Coca Cola, Odwalla, North Face, and other corporate brands develop successful, results-driven campaigns that communicate the causes your company cares about.