Is Cause Marketing To This Group Worth The Effort?

Do you find yourself questioning the time and effort that goes into cause marketing? Has it become a pain rather than an uplifting venture? Do you wonder if it’s making a difference with consumers?

On the one hand, two-thirds of affluents indicate that they are loyal to brands that are socially conscious and will choose those brands over competitors. On the other hand, more than two-thirds of affluents do not want to be inconvenienced by cause marketing or pay more for goods and services to provide for it, according to eMarketer. This divisive consumer attitude puts companies in a conundrum.

Essentially, cause marketing can become a great defensive tool, part of the basics of doing business with affluents. However, it may not yield the desired approach if handled incorrectly and can doggedly eat away at profitability. And, as eMarketer (2013) reports, consumers are showing skepticism and fatigue and question some companies’ motivations and sincerity in this area. This adds additional pressure for companies deciding to pursue cause marketing and selecting a promotional pathway.

With cause marketing having the power to enhance consumer attention, how well are companies showcasing their efforts to use it to drive brand loyalty and preference?  In brief, poorly.

In randomly selecting 10 luxury brands across 5 industries, my observation is that companies aren’t even doing the basics. They are throwing away any goodwill that they could be generating online, most likely unintentionally. 

Judge your brand to see if you are utilizing basic elements.

  • Share the story. The online store encourages visitors to “Get Inspired,” but it won’t be over cause marketing. The topic is nowhere to be found on the website or on Facebook. By contrast, has a link to an emotional video on “Chime for Change” to support the efforts of improving health and education for women and girls, incorporating young girls to celebrity spokespersons.

    If you have a cause marketing venue, follow through at presenting it and refreshing the visuals and commentary based upon activities so that consumers can reward you for your efforts.

  • Put some passion in it. Louis Vuitton uses the brand elements of “journey” and “encounters” to introduce its “Journeys Awards,” the international short film competition it supports. While not a broad cause marketing venue, the opportunity does set out to reward filmmakers who have a unique artistic vision. In looking at last year’s winning pieces, one can feel the passion that went into the work and the support provided by Louis Vuitton toward the concept of a personal “journey.”

    Tying your cause marketing to one of your core brand elements (like Vuitton with Journey) helps relate to your audience and provides a way to leverage the equity you create in new ways to stay top-of-mind with your audience.

  • Don’t make consumers hunt for your cause marketing. It’s so easy to put a link on Facebook, but none of the set of brands reviewed promoted their cause marketing using that channel. Consumers can’t reward you with their loyalty if they don’t know what you are accomplishing.

    Check all of your digital touch points and determine where you can incorporate cause marketing and heighten the perceived emphasis you place on it for consumers. Consider, for example, putting a blurb in email communications (like purchase receipts) providing an update.

  • Watch out for gaps in your cause marketing story. When cause marketing isn’t on your website, consumers may try to search for your efforts. In doing so, it may raise some issues if it has been years since you have engaged in cause marketing or if there are substantial gaps of inactivity. If you decide to engage, make it part of your long-term strategy. Otherwise, your efforts may not seem sincere. Showcase your steady pursuit in making a difference.

    One of the brands researched had a four-year old campaign as evidence of their most recent cause marketing event—clearly accentuating and demonstrating their lack of consistent dedication to their cause. What would consumers find if they search for your cause marketing efforts?

  • Demonstrate the results. As consumers become more skeptical of efforts, they want to see the difference that cause marketing has made. This helps to address the “sincerity issue.”

    Instead of merely listing monetary contributions, accentuate the changes that you have made in people’s lives through testimonials, number of individuals who have benefited or before and after scenarios.

In reviewing cause marketing on the digital platform, it’s apparent that only a few luxury brands included it as part of their brand DNA. If it is part of affluent consumers’ process for purchase decision-making, it raises the question whether failing to do any cause marketing encourages consumers to look elsewhere for brands that are socially conscious.  Cause marketing may be viewed by some as “a pain.” But for consumers who want to know the true heart of a brand, they want to hear intimate stories and feel good about supporting the brand’s efforts to make the world better.

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