Unemployment is high. Growth prospects are dismal. The economy is in the dumps. Under such conditions, you'd expect the only marketing variable high on the minds of consumers and marketers would be price, price and price.
And you'd be wrong, wrong and wrong.
Although record Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales show people are looking for bargains, a consumer survey published last week by Cone Communications shows that “consumers’ heartstrings are leading their purchase decisions and putting brands’ support of social issues at the top of their gift lists.”
In fact, shopper response to a key question Cone has been asking since 1993 is at an all-time high. 94% of respondents said they would select a brand that supports a social issue when choosing between it and a competitor equal in price and quality. Significant numbers indicated they had responded to cause marketing in the past year. 62 percent reported they had purchased a cause-related product and 70 percent said they had donated to a charity supported by a company.
At a time when each day's newspaper brings despairing news on the local, national and global level, it's easy to imagine people turning inward and focusing only on looking out for themselves. The Cone data — and several similar studies published this year — is testimony to the strength of the impulse to help others within human nature and our culture.
That phenomenon has not been lost on leaders of companies big and small. Whereas cause marketing was once a novel approach practiced by a very few, it is now pervasive. When Cause Marketing Forum launched a service this fall called Cause Update to share short reports on new campaigns, we thought we might struggle to find enough material. Instead we've struggled to keep up with the flow of extremely varied initiatives designed to do well by doing good.
A few recent examples: