Causing Change

“Win their hearts first, and their heads will follow” – Joe Waters, author of Cause Marketing For Dummies. With the advent of social media and the rise of a new generation of millennials in the workplace, the way companies operate has changed dramatically. The line between company and consumer has become increasingly blurred and comment sections on social media have been filled to the brim with direct requests, opinions, and reactions to which companies were not previously privy. In this day and age, companies can rise and fall at the behest of its consumers and marketing has become an even more vital part of a company’s success. It has become a way of directly connecting with the consumer and finding out what specific causes and issues truly matter to them. In fact, “78% of those aged 18-24 are willing to spend more on a product or service that is more ethical than a cheaper option.” [Spotlight on CSR] This has caused companies to become much more purpose driven and such a shift has begun to show in full force across nearly every industry.

Meaningful mainstays like October’s Breast Cancer Awareness campaign have had huge turn outs for decades. Consumers and companies have taken part in raising capital and fighting the disease together. Pink ribbons are distributed through donations and customers are allowed to have the satisfaction of contributing to raising awareness and being part of a cause. As the years have gone by, that pink campaign has become even more elaborate and wide-reaching. The merchandise revolving around the color pink has branched out to encompass nearly anything a consumer could want, from shirts, coffee sleeves, and even license plates. The fervor has transitioned to online social platforms as well, with breast cancer awareness hashtags trending throughout the entire month of October and companies promoting those same choice phrases at the end of their posts. By adapting to this mainstay, companies have found a way to tie their products in to what is truly important to people and give to a greater cause as a result.

As Breast Cancer Awareness has introduced, influenced, and championed cause marketing among the nation for the month of October, the trend has continued to build momentum throughout the rest of the year as well. There are more than enough causes to fill up a twelve month calendar year and this has become apparent to consumers as companies continue to take on different causes. In fact, Cause marketing has skyrocketed to $2.14 billion, a 4.4% jump from where it was in 2017 [Cause Stats]. One such cause highlighted in the national spotlight was coming to the aid of furloughed federal workers during the lengthy government shutdown in Feb 2019 where thousands went without pay for nearly a month. CBS’ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert decided to get involved and created a fundraiser, creating and selling a coffee cup; “Don’t Even Talk To Me Until I’ve Had My Paycheck”. One hundred percent of the proceeds from mug sales went to benefiting the World Central Kitchen, which fed federal workers. Causes such as this have yielded impressive results and have proven to affect legitimate change.

While these national campaigns have spread like wildfire, local cause marketing has begun to sprout up everywhere as well. Late last year, during the California wildfires, disaster relief programs were put in place in many local companies throughout California. Proceeds from merchandise went to helping victims of the fires recover with social media leveraging and giving the people and causes a voice. Regardless of the scale on which the causes are marketed, results are dramatic and companies are taking note.

During the 2019’s Superbowl commercials, it was made apparent that big brands are electing to opt for social statements in their advertisements, as opposed to promoting the traditional features/benefits or personality of their brands. “91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues.” [Cone Communications CSR study] So, it’s of no surprise that Google and Microsoft created broad commercials about unity and togetherness. Google’s two ads, one featuring the United States military, and the other showing people across the world connecting through translation algorithms, performed fantastically. By aiming the commercials at banding strangers together and exemplifying the human experience, Google was able to appeal to all its users across the globe, rather than just a specific demographic. Microsoft also chose to focus on bringing people together. Their ad cleverly showcased a unique video game controller made for children with disabilities and promoted the importance of connectivity among everyone, on and offline.

With stats like the following, it’s easy to understand why social responsibility is the way, “88% would buy a product from a Purpose-driven company and 66% would switch from a product they typically buy to a new product from a Purpose-driven company.” [2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study]

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