What is cause-related marketing today?

What is cause-related marketing today?

Partnering with non-profits for a good cause can underline brand values. But cause marketing is a broad sector – what drivers and trends are currently shaping it?

As a means of underlining brand values, cause-related marketing – or cause marketing, as it’s often shortened to – is a powerful marketing tool. Find the right cause – one that has synergy with your organisation – and it can help build trust and drive engagement with your core, and wider, audience. But how does cause marketing work today? Here are a few facts and figures.


Cause marketing, or cause-related marketing, refers to marketing that involves the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organisation for mutual benefit.

  1. Tesco’s long-running Computers for Schools campaign is based on parents – and the wider public – receiving vouchers when they spend in Tesco stores. These can be used to purchase IT equipment for local schools.
  2. For limited periods, Pampers has donated the cost of one tetanus vaccine to UNICEF for each branded pack of nappies it sells. It also donates money for views on its YouTube channel.
  3. Lynx, the deodorant brand, partnered with charity CALM, staffing call-centre phone lines and producing an out-of-home advertising campaign, to raise awareness of male suicide (to find out how they did it, see issue 5 of Catalyst magazine).
Traditional methods
  • Product sales – selling branded products with a proportion of the selling price given to the non-profit cause.
  • Purchase Plus – ‘point-of-purchase’ giving, where customers are asked to pay a little extra at the till, with the money collected given to the non-profit cause. See also ‘charity rounding up’, where online transactions made via a debit or credit card are rounded up and the extra money donated to the cause. For example, Domino’s Pizza works with Pennies, the electronic charity box. Donations are made online by customers who are asked if they wish to round up their orders to the nearest pound.
  • Licensing – using a non-profit’s logo on promotional items such as T-shirts, mugs, and credit cards, or having the non-profit provide certification or recommendation of for-profit products.
  • Events and programmes – sponsorship and co-branding of one-off events or longer-running programmes, such as Capita’s ongoing partnership with The Prince’s Trust.
  • Public service marketing campaigns – partnering with non-profits to actively encourage behaviour change. For example, Flora Pro-activ partnered with the British Heart Foundation to help raise awareness of heart disease amongst women and to get more of them talking about how they can help reduce their risk by making lifestyle changes, such as lowering cholesterol through diet.
  • 55% of consumers globally are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact – up 10% from 2011.
  • Brands that communicate their sustainability efforts generate five times the revenue of those that don’t.
  • 63% of women and 45% of men say that a company’s cause work influenced them to accept a job.

Source: formomentum.com

  1. Multi-dimensional partnerships – according to Edelman, the global communications and marketing firm, corporate partners are often now seeking to work with multiple non-profits to produce a more rounded approach to tackling good causes. NGOs, academics, media, and membership organisations are all being invited to deliver real impact around cause marketing.
  2. Taking action, not cash – Cause Consulting report that many brands are no longer asking consumers to donate money for a cause. They’re aiming to directly bring about societal change by asking people to change their behaviours.
  3. Engaging Generation Z – it’s widely recognised that millennials are more likely to give to good causes than previous generations, but only if they are convinced that the company doing the asking is helping too. The next step for marketing over the coming years, however, is also one into the unknown – appealing to a new generation with different needs.

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