Cause & Effect: How MediaVest's New Research Is Affecting Media

To help clients better understand the role social causes have on how consumers perceive their products and brands, or on the campaigns and media strategies they use to influence them, Publicis' MediaVest unit has developed a new research tool to understand, well, its cause and effect. The tool, dubbed the Cause-Related Index, is based on primary research conducted by MediaVest's research team that shows the degree to which social cause influences how marketers and brands are perceived by specific types of consumers, and how those perceptions can be used to fine-tune advertising and media plans.

The CRI is an index based on three key components of consumer perceptions of social causes: 1) The personal importance a particular cause has for specific consumers; 2) How personally involved consumers are with those causes; and 3) The degree to which consumers expect companies/brands to be involved with or support those causes.

Those factors are computed into a single metric that MediaVest's teams can use to fine-tune campaign strategies and media buys.



"There are a lot of questions from our clients, about what are the right causes for them to be involved in, and how they should go about identifying where to invest, where to tie their brands, and how to be relevant if they're going to make a commitment to a cause," says Dave Shiffman, vice president-media research director at MediaVest, who developed the CRI.

One of the things MediaVest has learned is that if marketers are going to utilize causes in their campaign and media strategies, they must be based on genuine commitments, because otherwise the tie-in could backfire on them if consumers perceive it just to be a "marketing game" that is simply exploiting their connection to a cause.

The research also shows there are marked differences among consumers in terms of the types of causes they support, or would like to see marketers support.

The No. 1 cause the average American would like to see marketers supporting is education/schools/literacy, followed by local community charities, health- or disease-related programs, environmental/green causes, poverty, children-related causes, and women-related causes.

But that's the view from the general population. When Shiffman drills into the CRI, he says distinct patterns emerge among various types of consumers, especially ethnic and racial cultural differences, as well as generational distinctions.

For example, he says Hispanics and African Americans are much more personally involved in the causes they support and expect marketers to be as well.

On the other hand, Shiffman says Generation X-ers - people born in the late 1960s and 1970s - live up to their reputation for being socially unmotivated slackers.

"When it comes to causes, Generation X continues to carry that same chip on their shoulders," Shiffman says, adding that the generation is distinguished from others that are generally involved in causes - though the relevance of causes various among generations.

Boomers, he says, tend to support things like "public broadcasting," but tend to be average overall.

Generation Y, or Millennials, he says tend to be especially involved in causes, particularly those involving the environment and global/international issues.

There also are gender differences, according to Shiffman, who notes that women - especially moms - tend to be extremely involved in children's, education, women's and church and community related causes.

2 comments about "Cause & Effect: How MediaVest's New Research Is Affecting Media".
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  1. Jim Dennison from DigitalMediaMeasures, September 25, 2009 at 9:05 a.m.

    Reading this article, it's hard for me to see how the CRI isn't being used as a tool in the "marketing game". Advertisers who use it to position themselves with consumers who are passionate about a cause, don't do it because the advertiser believes in the cause, they do it because if they are perceived as believing in the cause the consumer will buy the product or service. Reminds me of the old George Burns joke that sincerity is everything; if you can fake that, you've got it made.

  2. Robert Cartwright from United Television, September 25, 2009 at 9:09 a.m.

    Finally! Somebody gets it! So glad to see Media Vest step outside the conventional media measurement box...

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