Does cause marketing increase sales?
Yes. But with a caveat.
You have to follow best practices to have a positive, sustainable impact on revenue.
We reviewed multiple studies concerning cause marketing and found that it can have a positive impact on overall sales (as high as 75% for consumer goods) by increasing customer purchases, frequency, and loyalty.
But we also found data that indicates you’ll need to be deliberate and disciplined in your approach or you risk diminished results – or, in a worst-case scenario, hurt your overall sales.
Often, consumers go through a series of cause-related mental checks when purchasing from a company.
They select the product they desire and look for other forms of affirmation that they’re selecting the option that most closely aligns with their personal values.
The Five Best Practices
1. Align Your Cause and Your Company
According to research conducted by Sprout Social, your brand is considered credible when the cause you’re featuring has a noticeable impact on your customers (47%), workforce (40%), and day-to-day operations (31%).
This means you will connect better with your customers if your cause – or causes – are aligned with your business activities.
So, for instance: if you sell outdoor clothing, an obvious connection would be to support environmental causes and national parks conservation.
Or, if you are a national restaurant franchise that employs people who often do not have high school degrees, aligning with a GED program that fosters high school equivalency education would connect well with your customers and employees.
If your product, your company, your customers, and your cause are all in alignment, it will resonate with your customers as being legitimate and sincere.
It also solidifies their purchasing loyalty, thereby lifting revenue per customer, as well as attracting potential customers who are sympathetic to the cause you are supporting.
2. Practice What You Preach
Especially in this digital age, consumers are keeping a close eye on companies’ practices.
According to a survey conducted by Mailchimp, 46% of consumers are highly attentive to the actions taken by brands.
This means you must be mindful of how your actions might impact your brand reputation.
If your company is perceived as unethical or irresponsible outside of its cause marketing activities, particularly around the cause you are supporting, all the efforts you make towards aligning with that cause will be lost in the reality of your external actions.
Make sure that for any cause you align with, you can be holistically committed in your overall operations and company tactics to foster advancement of the cause as well.
This will build brand loyalty and increase customer purchasing frequency.
3. Be Upfront and Transparent
According to a survey by SAP SE, the majority of consumers value transparency in business practices as a way for brands to demonstrate their authenticity.
The survey interviewed 10,000 consumers across 10 countries and discovered that 67% of respondents believed transparency played a crucial role in assessing a brand's authenticity.
Furthermore, 60% of consumers expressed an inclination to purchase from companies that were transparent about their business practices.
These findings indicate that you must be forthcoming and truthful with your customers in order to establish trust and foster loyalty.
As consumer interest in knowing the origins and production processes of products increases, you need to be ready to provide this information and “show the receipts,” so to say.
This forthright disclosure establishes you as someone who can be trusted for future business purchases in the customer’s mind.
Talk to one of our experts today to find out how Change can help you.
4. Incorporate Environmentally Friendly Solutions
There are numerous worthy causes with which to align your company.
But regardless of your core cause or concern, consider incorporating eco-friendly solutions to your business products and services.
According to a Forbes report, 70% of companies have observed a rise in consumer demand for eco-friendly products and solutions.
This growing inclination towards sustainability is motivated by a widespread perceived need to cut down on carbon emissions.
Most consumers expect that you address, or seek to ameliorate, any negative environmental impacts created by selling your products and services.
So, even if your core cause is not environmental, per se, seek to provide clear information about your environmental practices in other avenues of your business.
Environmental concerns have risen to the level of being a universal consumer characteristic.
5. Provide a Suite of Cause Options & Donation Opportunities
A new study from consulting firm DoSomething Strategic found that nearly 75% of respondents would be more likely to purchase products from brands that support social or environmental causes.
What’s more, 57% said they would take action on behalf of a brand – such as sharing content or promoting the brand to their friends – if they knew the brand supported a cause they cared about.
That’s the good news.
But the challenge is that different demographics, age groups, countries, and product/service offering cohorts gravitate to different causes.
One way you can solve that problem is to align with more than one cause or issue, incorporating activities and support with a suite of causes that connect with your customer base.
It's also important to let your customers participate in your cause.
You can give them the opportunity to donate at checkout on your site, by rounding up their purchase, or donating accrued loyalty points.
Presenting your customers with donation options at checkout reinforces your role in your cause (or causes) at the time of purchase.
Overall, cause marketing can be an effective, complimentary portion of your overall marketing and business development strategy.
In addition to the purely altruistic values of contributing to society and the improvement of the lives of your customers and those around you, cause marketing can provide a positive impact on overall sales and growth.
An effective strategy is to visualize customers making a checklist of the things that attract them to do more business with your company:
- Are the cause and the company aligned? – check
- Does the company practice what it preaches? - check
- Is the company transparent? – check
- Is the company environmentally conscious? – check
- Does the company provide me with a range of causes they support and I can support with them? – check
Do the above, and make sure you can check off every category. Not only will you impact your favorite cause, you’ll also positively impact your company sales.