Cause-related marketing is a great strategy for companies with a good cause as it improves brand reputation and demonstrates their commitment to social causes.
The strategy can deliver multiple benefits, provided it is worked consistently. The alignment between campaigns and the business purpose is the key to their success, otherwise they risk being seen as opportunist, potentially creating a reputational crisis for the companies that lead them.
Let’s look at what type of companies should consider this strategy and how they should design their campaigns to maximise the benefits.
Companies with purpose
More and more companies are aware that the current form of capitalism is not sustainable, so they incorporate socio-environmental criteria into their business purpose. The purpose of the company reflects the reason for its existence (why society is going to be better thanks to them) and, according to guru Simon Sinek, this is the key for any successful company.
In this context, we can be sure that cause-related marketing is an excellent tool for these committed companies, helping them to generate value for the company, people and planet.
Cause-related marketing and brand reputation
Cause-related marketing supports social causes through the sale of a product or service. Brand and consumer come together through these campaigns to support a cause that they both care about, thus generating an emotional bond based on shared values. In a world in which 95% of purchasing decisions are emotional, this connection between brand and consumer may be the key to differentiating from the competition and to being considered among the select group of ‘love brands’ that coexist in the mind of the consumer.
‘If 77% of brands disappear tomorrow, people wouldn’t mind’
Meaningful Brands, Havas Media
How to design a cause-based marketing campaign
Thus, responsible companies find a strategy of great value in cause-related marketing. Let’s look at the key points that they must take into account to create a successful campaign:
- Alignment of purpose and cause: any inconsistency between the activity of the company and the selected cause could generate an effect contrary to that intended by the action.
- NGO selection: ensuring the credibility of the entity.
- Product / service with a cause: an attractive offer consistent with the company’s activity.
- Definition of a donation policy: clear and transparent.
- Planning a communication campaign: honest and balanced.
In order to optimise the results, these types of campaigns should be implemented with a medium-term vision, working in a recurrent way. Consistency and honesty are also key ingredients for campaign credibility.
8 examples of proven cause-related marketing campaigns
Restaurants Against Hunger
Action Against Hunger is a leading international NGO working to prevent, diagnose and treat child malnutrition. It has been promoting the Restaurants Against Hunger campaign for 6 years, where their network of restaurants donate between 0.5 and 2 euros from some of the dishes on their menus to the fight against hunger. More than 1,200 restaurants throughout Spain have already joined the initiative.
Black Friday by Patagonia
Patagonia is an American social company that sells technical clothing and was one of the first promotors of the B Corps movement. The company takes advantage of Black Friday to launch their cause-based marketing campaigns, in which they dedicate 100% of their sales on that day to environmental projects (aligned to their position).
IKEA toys for Education
Education is one of the fundamental values of the IKEA Foundation. For this reason they have promoted campaigns like ‘Teddies for education’, in which they invited kids to design the stuffed toys of their dreams. The winning drawings were then recreated by designers at the Swedish company, with 1 euro from each unit sold donated to early childhood education projects.
Another interesting trend is the case of companies whose model is inspired by cause-based marketing, as shown in the following examples:
Ten Trees, ten trees planted for each purchase
Ten Trees is a cause-based marketing brand offering sustainably made clothing and accessories that empowers everyone to plant trees along with their purchases. They have already planted more than 40 million trees and restored land in over 8 countries. Their vision is to plant 1 billion trees by 2030, which will drastically reduce climate change.
Uttopy and its fashion for good
Uttopy is a Spanish sustainable fashion brand that through design gives visibility to social causes. Each of the brand’s collections is inspired by a cause and donates part of its price to an NGO promoting daily activism and micro-donations among new generations. During its first years of activity, this social start-up has already collaborated with a dozen entities.
Auara, water for water
Auara is a social bottled water company that aims to finance projects for access to drinking water in disadvantaged countries. The brand invests its profits in co-financing water and sanitation projects, turning the daily act of drinking into opportunities for those who do not have them.
Denik, art that can change the world
Denik is a cause-based American brand that offers notebooks designed by an artist community, and in this way it promotes youth artists. They also contribute to the construction of schools in different parts of the world by donating part of the sales of their products.
FEED, Good products that feed the world
Feed is an American handbag brand that aims to minimise hunger in the world. The sale of all their bags and accessories results in the donation of a certain amount of food to development entities. It was founded in 2007 and has already donated more than 100 million meals.
As we have seen through these examples, all these campaigns are consistent with the purpose of the brands driving them and strive to offer an attractive proposition to the consumer.
A cause-based marketing campaign will generate multiple benefits for the company, although we must not forget that the main objective should be to generate a positive impact.
To summarise the key benefits:
- Brand reputation
- Awareness and advocacy
- ‘Buycotting’ effect (active purchase from responsible brands)
- Measurable social impact (awareness and donations)
- Tax relief
Brand reputation and awareness are at the top of the list, given their susceptibility to being pledged or generating word of mouth. Although these are intangible benefits, they are key to competing today.
These campaigns can also generate an economic return (due to the ‘buycotting’ effect and taxation), but this should not be the main goal; indeed, if the consumer perceives opportunism associated with the move, the result may be counter-productive.
Cause-based marketing is a tool with great potential to make brand engagement visible and generate a positive impact with your customers. The millennial generation (who will form 75% of the working population in 2025) increasingly value the commitment of companies and support these campaigns.
In seeking to lead these types of campaigns, it is very important to align them with the company’s commitment. Consistency is the key to success; if the action is perceived as opportunistic it can result in a reputational crisis.
The best way to achieve good results is to work the campaigns in the medium term, with honest and transparent communication. It is important to be clear about the expectations of this type of campaign, since although they generate a positive economic performance, the main benefit will be related to brand reputation.
Passionate about marketing, creativity and good people.
LIC & MBA and CEMS Master’s in International Management by ESADE and MIB by ISDI. Expert in Marketing and Digital Strategy, with over 10 years’ experience in brand management in various sectors such as consumer goods, hotels, services and publishing. Enthusiastic about social entrepreneurship and customer social responsibility, with a solid knowledge in both disciplines. At present, founder and executive director of fashion brand with a cause Uttopy.
Uttopy is a fashion brand with a cause. Each collection is inspired by a socio-environmental cause and helps NGOs to raise awareness and fundraise to find solutions. The goal is to encourage everyday activism and solidarity, integrating this into the day-to-day of new generations through fashion.
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