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.
Jan 10 ,2017
Now that 2016 is behind us, let’s take a look at campaigns we can learn from going into 2017.
REI “Opt Outside”
As park advocates, any campaign promoting park exploration and encouraging active lifestyles warm our hearts. REI listened to consumers’ concerns over commercialization of holiday festivities, and came up with an alternative: ditch the shopping and head outdoors. Although at first glance this may sound counter-productive for a retail brand, it did just what it intended to do: gave consumers a break from consumerism in favor of reconnecting with the outdoors. REI’s brand depends on consumers’ active lifestyles, and by encouraging people to go outside it can increase their need for more outdoor gear, and helps them to become advocates for our public lands. This campaign has been running since 2015 and consistently sparks media interest and loads of engagement across social media. The “Opt Outside” campaign not only targeted consumers, it also involved one other important group – REI employees. Employees were given Black Friday off as REI closed its stores, and they were encouraged to explore the outdoors and share photos on social media, generating plenty of positive social media activity with people in outdoor spaces representing REI.
Key takeaway: Big picture strategy. Too often brands can get drawn in by the temptation to make a sale, and can miss the big picture: sometimes it’s just as important to tap into culture and be part of the conversation. This isn’t guaranteed to lead to direct or immediate sales, but it definitely helps build brand image and loyalty among consumers, which is much harder to capture than a quickie sale on Black Friday.
Columbia “Gear Up Give Back”
Columbia’s cause marketing campaign donated a percentage of sales to local conservation causes, and also partnered with nonprofits to educate shoppers in stores. Shoppers were invited to “Gear Up, Give Back” and could help raise funds simply by making a regular purchase (no extra donations necessary). The campaign resulted in a significant traffic and sales lift and strengthened Columbia’s relationship with popular local non-profits.
Key takeaway: Bring the cause to your consumers Consumers want to help, but want it to be easy and accessible. According to a 2014 study by MSL Group, 69% of millennials worldwide want businesses to facilitate their involvement in addressing social challenges. Campaigns must not only be tied to a cause, but should make it easy for consumers to take part.
Walgreens “Red Nose Day”
Red Nose Day introduced a lighter side to a heavy cause: children’s poverty. Walgreens made fundraising, well, “fun” and kept it light. Red noses were sold across Walgreens stores for $1.00 (how can you not buy one of these and post a selfie?) making it incredibly easy for consumers to get involved. In addition, featured red products were prominently displayed on a dedicated shelf so that customers could purchase additional items that would contribute more funds to the cause.
Key Takeaway: Make it fun! Poverty is a health issue which is relevant to Walgreen’s business mission to ‘Champion Everyone’s Right to be Healthy and Happy’, but that doesn’t mean the campaign can’t be fun. The comedic twist on things is unexpected and inviting. This campaign did an excellent job at facilitating consumer involvement and engagement, and raised over $31.5 million for the cause.
Our favorite campaigns of 2016 stood out, and taught us something. How can you set yourself apart while bringing your cause closer to your consumers this year? We’d be happy to help! Reach out at email@example.com to learn more.
Jul 21 ,2016
While it’s true that some of the hype around content marketing has taken a back seat to current marketing trends such as social media reach, influencer advertising, and mobile application advertising, the success of most long term marketing strategies still heavily relies on content marketing, including cause marketing. Here’s how:
Demonstration of Long-Term Commitment
In order for audiences to be able to understand and believe in a brand’s commitment to a social cause, they have to see consistent cause-driven messages on more than one campaign. Inconsistency can indicate inauthenticity, so in order to gain credibility, your website, social media, newsletters and product packaging should all communicate the essence of your cause marketing campaign. Evaluate every platform available to see how you incorporate a tie in to your cause. Messaging should not cloud the brand feel or main mission, but enhance it, same as a well-chosen Cause should.
Content marketing lets people find the information they want to find easily and readily. The information they seek should be accessible in the least amount of clicks possible, whether they’ve landed on your Instagram profile or are browsing your website. Information about your brand’s involvement in a cause shouldn’t be hard to find. In between campaigns, audiences should be able to easily access information about past events, causes and impact. Let consumers know that your cause is part of your brand mission and make a clear connection to communities they care about.
Using content marketing techniques to strengthen your cause marketing is also incredibly efficient. You are already using effective communications tools (we hope!), so make it a point to maximize your cause marketing messages where you are already reaching your audience. Here are some suggestions:
A. Social Media
If you’re doing social media correctly, you’ve spent a lot of time figuring out who your audience is, when, where and how to reach them, and what content encourages engagement. Social media algorithms take into account content type and presentation, including trending news, keywords, and multimedia elements, in addition to user interest and engagement rates. By applying content marketing techniques such as SEO to social media posts, your web and social media traffic can grow and you can gain more awareness of your cause and impact.
B. Blog Writing
Blogs are still powerful tools for sharing your company’s voice, whether it be about your product, your cause, or statements on current industry events and news. By coupling your blog strategy with your cause campaign, your brand can inform your online audience about your commitment to and impact on the cause. The best thing about blogs is that you are the publisher, so you can decide to share whatever content you want! You can use your blog for releasing a quarterly statement from your CEO with progress updates on cause marketing efforts, teasers on what to look forward to, or even a more digestible version of business news. From marketing case studies of your campaign to event recaps filled with campaign photos, the possibilities are best online casino endless. Don’t forget to add social share links so your cause marketing campaign posts can easily be shared onto your readers’ favorite platforms.
C. Company Newsletters
In addition to being used for more formal purposes like company updates, mini feature stories and upcoming events, newsletters are a great resource for encouraging stakeholder involvement. If the cause you’ve committed to truly resonates with your brand, it only makes sense that the employees, customers and other stakeholders will want to hear of your accomplishments, progress, and even how they can get involved. From recruiting event volunteers to social sharing, newsletters can help reach populations that could potentially be your biggest advocates.
Cause marketing is a powerful tool for building your brand, communicating your cause, and enhancing your brand outreach. Want to learn more? GSG has helped large and small brands build and run cause marketing campaigns. Reach out to learn how we can help you too.