4 Reasons for the Explosion in
Cause Marketing
(and Why This Industry Is Here to Stay)

Why is cause marketing so enormously popular these days?

If you’ve never heard of it, cause marketing is a partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit company for mutual gain. It’s global citizenship at its best, and with a twist, since cause marketing means resources and funding for nonprofits along with both an image and sales boost for companies.

But most importantly, cause marketing can further good causes — and that goes for any good cause, be it social or environmental.

Picture the ads for the cleanup of ducks harmed by the Gulf oil spill, where Dawn dishwashing soap was used by volunteers to clean off the animals. Consumers could do their share by purchasing a bottle of Dawn, and then entering a code on the “Dawn Saves Wildlife” website. That triggered a $1 donation to the Gulf cleanup effort. This compassionate cleanup was made possible by an integrated cause marketing campaign. In the end, Dawn made more sales, and the Gulf cleanup effort pulled in more donations.

So it’s easy to see why it’s popular with companies and nonprofits. But what about consumers?

I have a few reasons, based on my own experience. But I also want to highlight some results from the 2011 Cone/Echo Global Consumer Responsibility Opportunity Study, which surveyed over 10,000 adults in 10 different countries.

The following stats may surprise you. More importantly, they’ll show you why now is an ideal — and lucrative — time to be a part of this industry, which shows no signs of slowing and is unquestionably here to stay.

Reason #1: Scarcity

Consumers and companies alike are starting to sit up and notice that our resources are limited. Until we figure out how to live on another planet, we’d better take care of the one we’ve got.

That’s what sparked the sharp increase in nonprofits and causes … but it’s the realization of scarcity that got companies to sit up and listen. That, and the fact that they’re being scrutinized more than ever before, thanks to the Internet. Which brings us to our second reason …

Reason #2: Transparency

Transparency comes thanks to the Internet and the speed at which information travels.

Think about Twitter. Gone are the days where your only recourse to contact a company is to sit on hold for an hour with customer service.

Companies nowadays can engage directly with customers and resolve problems in minutes — and in front of the rest of the online world — through Twitter and other online channels. The Internet has empowered consumers to voice — and share — their compliments and grievances for every company out there.

Plus, this new approach to reciprocal communication is essential to getting a cause message heard. After all, 93 percent of consumers want to know what companies are doing in their cause efforts, but 91 percent also want to know that a company is listening to customer feedback on cause issues.

Thanks to social media, both consumers and employees are now empowered to drive the conversation about corporate responsibility.

Reason #3: We’re in an Age of Higher Consciousness …

Companies with deep pockets and flashy advertising campaigns no longer have a distinct advantage over the little guys. Because it’s the companies who can prove they care — both about their customers and the world — who get noticed and evangelized.

Just look at all the companies online with “Corporate Citizenship” pages on their website. Most Fortune 500 companies either have this or some kind of “Community Development” page.

It’s also possible — some say it’s fact — that the recent recession brought people back to reality. Meaning, they’re more aware of the importance of giving to others when times are tough.

At any rate, a whopping 94% of consumers in the world’s largest countries say they want to see more companies come out with products and services that support worthy issues.

Reason #4: Consider the Payoff …

Most well-executed cause campaigns show a positive Return On Investment (ROI).

Companies are waking up to the fact that they gain a business advantage when they combine social or environmental practices with business strategy. They can do well in business while doing good.

The facts support this. One of the top 10 reasons a consumer will follow through with a purchase is when a company supports a worthy cause.

As Alison DaSilva, executive vice president at Cone Communications, says, “It’s not an either/or — philanthropy or responsible business practices … Consumers want it all.”

What This Means for Cause Marketing Copywriters

The take-home message is this: Consumers will reward companies who do good by society. So any company looking to get ahead — or stay ahead — will want to embrace cause marketing as a permanent part of its business practices.

A whopping 93 percent of consumers want to be able to access more information, like a website, to explain what a company is doing in the name of corporate responsibility. And 89 percent of consumers want to be able to access this info both via new media (online) and traditional channels like in-store signs and product packaging.

So the opportunities for copywriters who adopt cause marketing as a niche are numerous. While companies get their footing on how exactly to go about this, anybody recognized as an expert in this industry — especially a writer who can articulate the details behind corporate citizenship — will be an enormous asset to both corporate and nonprofit clients.

Find out more about writing for the cause marketing industry.

Copywriting for a Cause

Copywriting for a Cause: How to Profit as a Writer and Make a Difference in the World

In today’s market, consumers expect businesses to do well while doing good. They want companies to be good citizens. That means businesses need copywriters who understand how to write for a cause. Learn More »

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Published: September 14, 2012

1 Response to “4 Reasons for the Explosion in Cause Marketing (and Why This Industry Is Here to Stay)”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article and I would like you to know that I really enjoyed reading it.

    Globally, we are facing the hydra-headed monster of poverty and unemployment.

    Billions of people are suffering and they have nowhere to go and nobody to turn to.

    We have despoiled the environment and are faced with natural disasters on a planetary scale.

    Weapons of mass destruction threaten our safety and security in an age of global terrorism and violence on the streets.

    What are we planning on doing about it? What's the solution?

    We need to support causes that are directed toward the common weal and that allow us to transcend our ego.

    Archan Mehta

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