Today, consumers expect for-profit businesses, even small ones, to actively contribute to a worthy cause. Businesses can utilize cause marketing to win over customers and make a positive difference in the world. Cause marketing expert and author Joe Waters defines cause marketing as a partnership between a nonprofit and for-profit for mutual profit.
Millennials, in particular, want companies to do their part, and they don't mind paying extra for something when a portion of the profits goes toward a solid cause. While cause marketing helps causes in need, it also offers big perks for companies.
Cause marketing builds your company's reputation with customers.
A 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study found that 92 percent of consumers say they have a more positive image of a company if it supports a social or environmental issue. A good reputation is so important that 33 percent of Americans say they've purchased a product more than once because of a company's good reputation, according to MWW's CorpSumer Research.
Stella Artois, for example, ran a campaign to provide women with families in the third world with long-term access to clean drinking water. As noted by Marketing Week, the brand that has a reputation for being more of an "older person's drink" has gained a following with a younger audience as a result of the campaign.
Cause marketing helps drive sales.
"The purchase trigger donation is the most successful cause marketing tactic," said Waters. "A purchase trigger donation is when consumers are prompted at checkout either in-store or online to donate."
"Kmart raised $22 million for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Thanks and Giving campaign during the 2013 holiday season – the single largest corporate partner donation ever to the St. Jude campaign," said Waters.
Other big-name companies that have been highly successful with purchase trigger donations include Lowes, Sears and GNC.
Sommer Garcia, social media coordinator for Sunny Health & Fitness, tried something different for her first campaign. The company donated a portion of the proceeds sold from its pink exercise products to breast cancer research through the Susan G. Komen organization.
The company profiled Donna Loeffler, a breast cancer survivor, who shared how exercise helped her through her recovery. The promotion was marketed through social media, the company's website and email marketing. As a result, the promotion yielded a 25 percent increase in the sales of pink products.Credit: Sunny Health & Fitness
Cause marketing helps recruit qualified new talent and retain employees.
Besides boosting your reputation and attracting a new customer demographic, getting behind a good cause has a direct impact on your workforce by attracting and retaining good employees.
"When employees have the ability to work together on something out of the office, like volunteering, it rids [a business] of corporate hierarchy. Employees from different departments and different levels of seniority are able to collaborate and interact on a deeper level, forming deeper relationships in the process. This helps boost employee retention, considering that close work friendships boost work satisfaction by 50 percent," according to The Undercover Recruiter.
The 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study found that 76 percent of millennials consider a company's social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work and nearly 64 percent won't take a job if a potential employer doesn't have strong corporate social responsibility practices.
Cristian Rennella, CEO and co-founder of elMejorTrato.com.pe backs this finding. His company's employee retention improved by 14.3 percent when they focused on increasing the vocational skills of underprivileged children.
After seven initiatives that yielded low results, Rennella realized that as a technology company, it was best to teach children with fewer resources how to code. Today, his company donates its time and skills to teach 40 kids per month how to program.
"We do it on Thursday and Friday afternoons as a team. This helped us unite the whole working group – even people from different areas of the company who never see each other. We believe our spike in employee retention improved because our team becomes stronger by … sharing important moments, such as helping the local community. In addition, it helps us to further improve our work culture."
As a marketing tool, the tech company has been able to leverage cause marketing to recruit top talent.
"We've found that job seekers prefer to join a company that has a mission and complements them in their [individual efforts]."