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.