Although as a practice cause-marketing shares many common traits with other types of marketing, giving, or fundraising efforts for social, charitable, and philanthropic organizations, these terms are by no means the same.
Definition: Cause-marketing is a potentially profit-making initiative by a for-profit company or brand to raise awareness, money, and/or consumer engagement in a social or environmental issue.
Statistically, studies show that as a business practice cause-marketing is -and will continue to grow as- an effective way to both increase financial gain and support a cause. In other words, cause marketing presents a unique opportunity for companies to simultaneously do well and do good, or better yet, to do well by doing good (see 2008 Cone Cause Evolution Study, 2008 Edelman goodpurpose™ Consumer Study, 2008 Barkley Cause Survey, 2009 Cone, Inc. Consumer Environmental Survey, 2009 Edelman goodpurpose™ Consumer Study, 2009 Barkley Cause Survey).
Purpose: To raise money and awareness for the company and the cause and to increase engagement with a company’s brand or product.
Attributes: Cause-marketing at its core has three major components:
(1) A product, often (but not always) a tangible item that can be bought and sold
(2) A partnership between the corporation behind that product and a non-profit or cause-based institution
(3) And a way to generate for profit
Product Sales: TUMS: “TUMS Helps Put Out More Fires Than You Think”, 2003
Cause: In 2003, the cost to train and equip a firefighter was roughly $4,500, with equipment costing close to $1,000 alone (Paul Davis, founder of the First Responder Institute).
Partnership: TUMS partnered with First Responder Institute.
Methodology: TUMS donated 10 cents for every bottle of TUMS sold. The cause-marketing campaign was supported via print media advertising, point-of-sale displays, and materials in retail stores nationwide, featuring actual firefighters who have joined the TUMS/FRI campaign.
Results: TUMS donated $238,000 to the First Responder Institute, which in turn funded 60 Fire departments throughout the United States. Additionally, TUMS saw a 16% increase in sales and a 30% increase in the number of displays shipped to stores (see www.causemarketingforum.com).
Brand Engagement: OfficeMax “A Day Made Better”, 2007 – 2010
Cause: Every year teachers spend over $1,000 annually on classroom supplies, roughly $4 billion annually, a trend known as “teacher-funded classrooms”.
Partnership: OfficeMax partnered with Adopt-A-Classroom.
Methodology: Through coupons, the sale of products, and heavy media coverage, OfficeMax was able to raise money and awareness about the issue.
Results: OfficeMax and Adopt-A-Classroom program where one day a year over and awarded 1,100 teachers over $1,000 in school supplies, raised awareness to this cause, and helped create the brand image of supporting teachers.