Causemedia Group’s Chris Noble discusses the positive impact of social media in the cause marketing world (above video), and the past year's developments, since retweeting and liking became seen as significant social actions. Brands and consumers are increasingly sophisticated ways to connect causes with marketing, and channeling "slacktivism" to more significant social good.
There's now measurable evidence that a brand’s philanthropic activities can influence shopper behavior and ultimately purchase decisions, and that gender nuance is a factor. The Integer Group queried 1,200 Americans about factors influencing brand preference when choosing between two companies with both benefiting a cause, and selling a product similar in price and quality. The top answer for both men and women was "personal relevance of cause" (70%).
Gender differences were found for the second most common answer: "donates with every purchase." Given a choice, women prefer brands that benefit a cause. Fifty percent of women polled by The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research said that causes including cures and disease prevention are most compelling, followed by social change, faith-based causes, animal and child welfare causes, as reported in The Checkout.
Women choose brands that promise instant gratification with each purchase (44% vs. 38% of the overall population), while for men, it’s less important (33%). "Brands need to appeal to men's rationale side, delivering a more rational benefit for their participation in a cause program, which can lead to higher engagement," said The Integer Group's Craig Elston.
"Men are more likely to support organizations like The Salvation Army or Goodwill, with women saying they support disease prevention causes such as breast cancer awareness."
The top brands purchased based on their affiliation with a cause were:
- 1. Yoplait
- 2. Anything Affiliated With Breast Cancer
- 3. and 4. (tied) Susan G. Komen for the Cure & Newman's Own
- 5. General Mills
- 6. Yogurt in general
- 7. and 8. (tie) P&G and RED
- 9. Boxtops for Education
- 10. and 11. (tied) Kellogg's, Campbell's & Girl Scouts
- 12. Dawn
- 13. Avon
“When brands get cause marketing right, it can also be a big win for the product category. For example, Yoplait by far, was ranked number one by shoppers as the brand they purchase most because of its association with a cause. The brand's Save Lids to Save Lives program celebrates its 13th anniversary this year, showing that long-term commitment to a cause program can pay off with high awareness and purchasing,” writes The Checkout.
Yoplait’s track record has haloed the entire category, making yogurt sixth on the overall list, while General Mills' 17-year commitment to Box Tops for Education placed them fifth and ninth on the list, respectively.
Slacktivism has evolved to more authentic activist awareness of a brand’s philanthropic commitment, and small steps are better than none, and increasingly de rigueur. Noble has been called the Machiavelli of cause marketing, but he prefers the moniker of Voltaire, who observed, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”