Cause Marketing

6 Dec

Cause Marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a “for profit” business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. Some argue that cause marketing is a mutually beneficial partnership and others believe it is a predatory scam.

Cause Marketing is Mutually Beneficial

As stated above, cause marketing is when corporations partner with non-profits to support a cause. The corporation creates awareness and raises funds that support that specific cause. Product sales and consumer willingness to pay for products have a positive relationship with cause marketing. 72% of Canadian consumers are more likely to purchase goods from a company supporting a cause or supporting the community.  And along the same line, 74% of Canadians prefer to work for a socially responsible company. So if a company participates in cause marketing, their employees most likely have higher levels of morale and motivation compared to companies who do not. Cause Marketing also lends more credibility to the non-profit and increases the potential for donations and financial support. In the end it works out to being a win-win-win situation. The company makes more profits, non-profit organizations get more exposure, and customers feel good about themselves for supporting a cause.

Cause Marketing is a Sham

When companies are participating in a cause marketing campaign, their main motivation is profit and not helping out. Companies tend to only choose causes that are “in fashion” therefore more marketable and more profitable. Bigger companies are ignoring less attractive charities because they know they cannot profit as much from supporting them. Cause marketing is also leading to some issues being overblown and exaggerated, such as breast cancer, when in fact there are other diseases impacting women more. Companies participating in cause marketing are usually not transparent as to how much of the money being raised is actually being given to the non-profit. For example, McDonalds only donated one cent from each happy meal sale to the Ronald McDonald house. The average consumer would assume that a much higher percentage of the sale would be going towards the cause. This has also lead to people contributing less to other causes now because they think they are participating enough just by purchasing products being offered through cause marketing relationships.

My Conclusion

I think the sentiment behind cause marketing is a noble one but most companies have lost sight of what it should be about, which is truly helping out a cause. Companies should be more transparent with their activities (how they are actually involved in the cause, what portion of profits is actually going towards the cause, etc.) and choose to partner with non-profits that fit with company values and branding. Companies should not just be partnering with the non-profit that will generate the most revenue. I think it is very important that the non-profit gains exposure and increased awareness as a result of the cause marketing campaign. Consumers must be educated about how they are helping and learn from the campaign. It is important for companies to support charities and give back to the community. Cause marketing is a way for all parties to benefit and can be aligned so as to create long lasting and profitable relationships.

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