Recent years have seen a big shift in the manner in which companies market themselves. The proliferation of online networking sites, viral videos and social platforms has changed the way that brands seek to increase their market share. In addition, cause marketing, which is the partnering of a brand with a social or environmental issue for the benefit of both, has become much more common. Supporting social / environmental issues has been seen to be an effective vehicle for increasing brand trust and authenticity.
One article, drawing on a study by Cone and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, noted that cause-related marketing can increase sales as much as 74% in certain consumer-goods categories, and consumers spend twice as long looking at cause-related ads than generic corporate ones. “One thing we know for sure - consumers are paying more attention to cause messages, and as a result are more likely to purchase,” said Gavan Fitzsimons, Duke marketing professor and lead researcher on the study. “This is clearly great news for brand managers, as every percentage increase can translate to millions of dollars in revenue.”
According to Anish K. Verrghese, “Creating brand equity is the most powerful weapon in a company’s armour to beat the competition. In the fiercely competitive market place of today where customer and societal expectations are changing rapidly requiring constant innovation of new ideas, products and services, strategy and social responsibility provide the shortest route to an organization’s success”.
The increasing use of cause-related marketing can be seen everywhere. Last year, PepsiCo pulled out of their $20 Million advertising space at the Super bowl, in favour of using the money for the “Pepsi Refresh Project”, which has distributed the money to over 400 winners, who used social media to gain support for their philanthropic ideas, while each using the #PepsiRefresh hash tag.
In 2009 the Edelman 3rd Annual Global Consumer Study surveyed 6000 consumers ages 18-64 across 10 countries. Here are just some of the statistics showing the extent to which consumers want a better world and are willing to support those corporations that make an effort to deliver it:
- 83 % of consumers are willing to change their consumption habits if it can help make tomorrow's world a better place to live.
- 82 % believe supporting a good cause makes them feel better about themselves.
- 61 % have bought a brand that supports a good cause even if it was not the cheapest brand.
- 64 % would recommend a brand that supports a good cause -up from 52 % last year (up 26 % in Germany, 10 % in the UK).
- 59 % would help a brand promote its products if there was a good cause behind it.
- 56 % believe the interests of society and the interests of businesses should have equal weight in business decisions.
- 66 % of people globally (67 % in the U.S., Canada, France and 69 % in India) believe it is no longer enough for corporations to simply give money away to a good cause; they need to integrate good causes into their day-to-day business.
- 59 % of people globally (61 % in the U.S.) have a better opinion of corporations that integrate good causes into their business, regardless of the reasons why they do so.
- 65 % of people have more trust in a brand that is ethically and socially responsible.
- 64 % of consumers say they expect brands today to do something to support a good cause.
- 63 % of consumers want brands to make it easier for them to make a positive difference in the world.
- 67 % would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause.
Evidently, supporting a good cause makes good business sense. It serves not only to increase awareness about a brand, but also to improve the company’s reputation and, coupled with the use of social platforms, create free advertising through word of mouth. Two projects that Regency Foundation Networx is involved in –namely Responsible Business and the Business for the Environment conference taking place in Jakarta in April this year – are two examples of vehicles that not only provide a platform for company’s to highlight their CSR portfolio, but also to communicate their activities and values on the global stage.