Beyond Profit: The Power of Cause Marketing in Building a Better World
With the rise of social awareness, businesses are increasingly taking a stand on important issues through cause marketing. This strategy has become a powerful tool in driving revenue and creating an emotional connection with customers. Whether it’s a small business or a large corporation, companies of all sizes are using their influence to make a positive impact on society. But what exactly is cause marketing and how does it work? In this article, we will explore the definition, benefits, history, and strategies for implementing successful cause marketing campaigns.
Definition of Cause Marketing
Cause marketing is a strategic partnership between a non-profit organization and a for-profit business. The goal of this partnership is to raise awareness of the non-profit’s mission while providing the profit business with an opportunity to engage customers through social responsibility. This type of marketing typically involves corporate donations, campaigns on social media platforms, and cooperative efforts between partners to promote both the cause and product sales.
Overview of the Benefits of Cause Marketing
Cause marketing is a valuable tool for businesses and non-profit organizations alike. It allows companies to connect with customers on an emotional level, build customer loyalty, and increase brand recognition. The benefits of cause marketing go beyond just increased sales, as it can also provide a platform to make a positive impact in the world. For non-profit organizations, cause marketing campaigns can lead to more donations and volunteers, as well as raise awareness of their mission among customers who may have otherwise been unaware. Ultimately, by connecting with customers through social responsibility, both businesses and non-profits can create lasting relationships while making a positive difference in the world.
History and Development of Cause Marketing
Cause marketing has a rich history that dates back several decades. It emerged in the 1970s as a strategy to connect companies with social issues and causes, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between brands and the communities they serve.
The American Express company launched a cause marketing campaign to restore the Lady Liberty statue in New York, which was in a state of disrepair at the time. American Express donated one cent to the restoration project for every transaction made with its credit card, and the campaign raised over $1.7 million for the cause.
Marriott launched a cause marketing campaign to generate cost-effective media coverage for the opening of Marriott's Great America in Santa Clara, CA. Their partner was the March of Dimes, which aimed to boost donations for their pledge walk and motivate their fundraisers to meet a set deadline. The promotion was carried out in 67 cities across the Western United States and surpassed its goals. Chapters West of the March of Dimes received $2.5 million in donations, which was a 40% increase, by the deadline. As a result of the promotion, Great America had a record-breaking opening day with 2.2 million attendees and received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free publicity.
The 1990s saw the rise of cause-related marketing, which was more focused on linking products or services to specific causes. Companies like The Body Shop and Ben & Jerry's became pioneers in this area, using their products to raise awareness and funds for social and environmental issues.
These early examples demonstrate how businesses and non-profits could work together to create positive change and benefit both parties financially. As technology has advanced, so have cause marketing campaigns, allowing companies and non-profits alike to reach audiences on a larger scale. Even though there are countless ways to participate in cause-related marketing today, these early examples still serve as inspiration for modern initiatives.
Today, we are seeing more companies and non-profits alike get involved in cause marketing. Cause-related marketing campaigns can take many forms, including product sales, special promotions, and even marketing efforts through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. With careful planning and strategy, businesses and non-profits can create powerful marketing plans that have both financial success and positive social impact.
Types and Strategies for Implementing Cause Marketing
Cause marketing is an effective way to make a positive impact while also achieving business objectives. There are many types of cause-related campaigns that companies can utilize, and each one requires thoughtful strategy and planning to be successful. One popular type of campaign involves partnering with a non-profit or charitable organization in order to raise money for a specific cause or mission. Other strategies for implementing cause marketing include creating campaigns that focus on environmental issues, social justice initiatives, or educational opportunities. Additionally, companies can also incorporate digital platforms like social media into their campaigns to reach larger audiences and create more engagement with their message. No matter what type of cause-related campaign you’re interested in pursuing, it's important to consider all aspects of the strategy before launching any marketing efforts. When properly planned and executed, businesses can use cause marketing as an effective tool for connecting with customers while generating revenue and making a positive impact on the world.
Cause Marketing Ideas
- Collaborate with a charity and donate a percentage of sales: This is a common approach to cause marketing. The brand chooses a charity to partner with and donates a percentage of sales to them.
- Create a limited-edition product and donate a portion of the profits: This idea involves creating a unique product and donating a portion of the profits to a charity.
- Host a charity event: Brands can host charity events such as a gala or fundraiser.
- Incorporate a social media campaign: A brand can use social media to create awareness and promote its cause.
- Volunteer work: The brand can organize volunteer work or sponsor a volunteering event.
- Public awareness campaigns: Brands can create public awareness campaigns to bring attention to a particular issue.
- Incorporate eco-friendly practices: Brands can commit to eco-friendly practices, such as using renewable energy or reducing waste.
- Sponsor an event or team: Brands can sponsor events or teams that align with their values.
- Donate excess inventory to charity: Brands can donate excess inventory to charity instead of throwing it away.
- Work with influencers: Brands can partner with influencers to promote their cause.
Examples of Cause Marketing Campaigns
The Body Shop: Time To Care
The Body Shop launched its “Time To Care” campaign in 2020 to support front-line workers in the healthcare industry and to promote wellness and kindness. As a beauty and wellness company, The Body Shop could think of no better way than to say thank you for their dedication. Their North American teams partnered with shelters, long-term care facilities, and assisted living communities donating body, hand soap, and other cleansing supplies. With this initiative The Body Shop was proud to provide wellness products, making sure everyone had access to taking some time for themselves.
To create further awareness about their ‘Time To Care’ campaign The Body Shop held public events in communities across North America donating more hygiene supplies essential for promoting self-care. They also encouraged customers who purchased certain items online to share images or inspiring stories while using those products with the hashtag #TimeToCare. This hashtag added more motivation reinforcing bringing more kindness into the world during these uncertain times. It was amazing that they got everyone involved with spreading love and kindness while being part of something bigger than themselves by simply participating online with the hashtag #TimeToCare on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Ben and Jerry's: Democracy is in Your Hands
In 2016, Ben & Jerry’s introduced an innovative new campaign and limited-edition flavor to help promote democracy in our country. Dubbed ‘Empower Mint’, this fudgy mint flavor was made to reflect the company's belief that 'everyone deserves a taste of empowerment'. Alongside the flavor introduction, came the "Democracy Is In Your Hands" campaign; a message to educate ice cream lovers about the various barriers placed in low-income communities from having their voice heard at the polls. The campaign video highlighted the injustices faced by these communities when attempting to cast their ballots.
It is evident that Ben & Jerry’s cares deeply about spreading awareness of democracy and its importance for all citizens regardless of class or economic background. The campaign also goes beyond just creating an edition flavor for one-time use; every election season, Ben & Jerry’s ramps up its messaging to ensure maximum outreach. Furthermore, along with the delicious flavors they are known for, can we truly say it’s more than just the ice cream they are dishing out?
Lifebuoy Soap: Help a Child Reach 5
Lifebuoy Soap is a brand that has deep roots in social responsibility. From donating soaps to health camps in rural India, India to providing access to education and healthcare to children in Bangladesh, Lifebuoy Soap has been committed to making the world a better place. Through its cause-marketing campaigns and corporate partnerships, Lifebuoy Soap is an example of how companies can use their resources to make a positive impact in the world.
Lifebuoy’s most recent campaign, "Help a Child Reach 5" has been particularly successful. The aim of this campaign is to educate communities around the world about the importance of proper hygiene, and how it can help prevent diseases that kill millions of children each year. Through its corporate partnerships with organizations like UN ICEF, Lifebuoy has been able to make a tangible difference in the lives of children around the world. From providing access to clean water and sanitation facilities, to training local healthcare workers on proper hygiene practices, Lifebuoy is helping communities stay healthy and safe from preventable diseases such as diarrhea and malaria.
Uber: Move What Matters
Uber's "Move What Matters" campaign was launched to encourage customers to remain home during Covid-19 lockdowns, while also pledging 10 million free rides and food deliveries to those in need. The campaign was comprised of a creative advertisement as well as the "Restaurant Contribution" initiative through Uber Eats - all of which aimed to show real action behind their messaging. Move What Matters saw Uber offer meaningful support for local restaurants by forgoing its profits from restaurant delivery orders on the app. This resulted in even more assistance for those who needed it most during the pandemic.
In addition to this initiative, the ad aired showed films by stuck-at-home filmmakers documenting their ‘new normal’ at home during the lockdown as an effort from Uber to thank people for staying put. This overall demonstrated a genuine effort from Uber that it too
Billie: Project Body Hair
For women everywhere, body hair has been a taboo topic and oftentimes a cause of shame. Women's razor brands have only exacerbated this sentiment by rarely if ever including it in their advertising. Billie wanted to alleviate this burden of unrealistic beauty standards and saw an opportunity to do so through a campaign called "Project Body Hair".
The campaign created a video that went viral with over 1.2 million views and actively sought user-generated content from their followers on Instagram with the hashtag #ProjectBodyhair. Their efforts were rewarded for more than just public engagement; Glamour and Allure—two prominent websites read by their ideal customers—cited the campaign as evidence of Billie's dedication to keeping up with current trends while helping shape beauty ideals that were reflective and inclusive of real people.
Monterey Bay Aquarium: Act for the Ocean
The Monterey Bay Aquarium had to close its doors to customers due to the pandemic, causing it to lose significant income. To make up for this loss, the aquarium’s marketers came up with a creative solution: an instructional YouTube channel focused on the beauty of aquatic life and offering solutions regarding various related animal issues.
The YouTube channel was an incredible success. It quickly gained popularity and success, making videos that allow viewers to learn about different aspects of aquatic life within their own homes. Furthermore, it ran an “Act for the Ocean” campaign that highlighted issues and offered solutions to implement at home, helping marine life remain healthy and safe in these difficult times. All these efforts had a positive effect on the aquarium's finances while providing an educational experience to many people all over the world.
Gillette: The Best Men Can Be
Gillette's revised slogan, “the best men can be”, is more than just words - it's a powerful statement in support of the #MeToo movement. Their short film promoting the new slogan took the internet by storm, racking up an impressive 11 million views in just 8 months! And with over 31.2 million views on its launch tweet with 204 thousand retweets, it's clear that people are listening to what Gillette has to say about ending sexual harassment and assault.
Gillette's messaging shift is a total game changer. By calling out unacceptable behavior and empowering men to take a stand for positive change, they're leading the charge toward a brighter future. It's crucial for brands to create inspiring social campaigns that encourage responsibility and allyship - and Gillette nailed it! Their powerful messaging is shining a spotlight on critical societal issues and sparking much-needed action. Let's all be allies of progress and make a difference together.
Dawn: Dawn Saves Wildlife
Dawn is leading the charge in animal rescue and conservation with their “Dawn Saves Wildlife” campaign. Through this campaign, Dawn has united with wildlife experts to develop effective solutions to help protect wildlife and habitats around the world. This includes projects that go beyond just cleaning up oil-polluted waters - they are helping to save endangered species, stop poaching, and create safe havens for animals in need.
The campaign has been an amazing success, with Dawn’s corporate partners making contributions that have enabled the organization to expand its reach and help more wildlife every day. On top of financial donations, Dawn also supports conservation efforts through public service announcements, educational materials, and other marketing efforts. These efforts have helped raise awareness about issues facing our environment and how each of us can make a difference.
Bandcamp: Bandcamp Fridays
Bandcamp is a platform that allows musicians to directly connect with their fans and get paid for their work. It's great for the music industry, providing an additional revenue stream for artists in addition to streaming royalties. "Bandcamp Fridays" is a campaign initiated by the platform that helps soothe some of the financial difficulties independent musicians face due to low streaming royalties. On certain Fridays throughout 2020, Bandcamp waived its share of sales on digital items and merch, so artists received 100% of the profits from their sales (as opposed to Bandcamp's usual 10–15% cut).
This has been incredibly successful – in the first two months of this initiative, over $20 million was raised from 4.3 million total purchases (manifested in the form of 890 thousand albums). In addition, labels have had the ability to leverage these spectacular events for their own benefit. Many use the time to promote special deals and offers via their Bandcamp stores as well as exclusive music releases from their artists. Ultimately, such initiatives strengthen fan loyalty while also providing invaluable support for independent music-makers who truly need it right now.
Dove: Real Beauty
Dove's "Real Beauty'' campaign was the talk of the town at the time it was released. It featured a creative video that highlighted how women spend so much time making themselves presentable to society. The goal of the campaign was to make people aware of how distorted our perception of beauty is and to help boost confidence among women all around the globe.
The interesting part about this campaign was its execution. Dove showed a range of people in their ads, from diverse backgrounds and untraditional looks that were non-conformist to conventional standards of beauty. This enabled them to send out a powerful message that something is not necessarily 'more beautiful' than something else and ultimately helped break down barriers of conventional idealisms where one type of body or face structure would be deemed more attractive than another. By trying to encourage an environment where everyone felt comfortable with who they were, no matter their size or shape, Dove helped spread awareness and provided an example for companies to attempt similar campaigns in the future.
Coca-Cola: America is Beautiful
Coca-Cola has been a staple of American culture for over a century, and its 2014 campaign “America is Beautiful" is an example of the company’s commitment to celebrating the nation’s diversity. The campaign featured a powerful television commercial that showcased images from across America, set to an original song celebrating the United States. The visuals featured everything from bustling cities to idyllic rural landscapes and included people from different backgrounds and with different stories.
The goal of the campaign was to encourage viewers to celebrate America’s diversity, something that Coca-Cola has long strived for. The campaign also worked to raise awareness about the importance of social responsibility and encouraged people to take action in their own communities. By emphasizing the company's core values of inclusion and acceptance, Coca-Cola hoped to inspire people to come together and make America an even better place.
ALS: The Ice Bucket Challenge
The "Ice Bucket Challenge" first made its rounds on social media in 2012, as a way to bring awareness to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disorder. By completing the challenge, participants had to pour a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads and nominate their friends to do the same. The challenge quickly caught fire and people all over the world started participating, which resulted in an unprecedented rise of awareness for ALS.
The Ice Bucket Challenge was different from most other campaigns because it was an enjoyable activity that wasn’t heavy-handed or confrontational about its cause. This allowed people who would not have otherwise taken part in charitable endeavors toward ALS to become involved without feeling guilty; instead, they felt empowered and united with others doing the same challenge around them. It felt like playing tag on social media but with a bigger purpose behind it and it’s no wonder why this kind of campaigning struck such a chord with so many people.
Chilis: Create a Pepper
Chilis "Create a Pepper" campaign was a cause-related marketing effort that raised money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an organization dedicated to finding cures for childhood diseases. The campaign asked customers to create their own special pepper and share it on social media. For every pepper created Chili's donated one dollar to St. Jude.
According to their website, "Since 2002, we've proudly supported the lifesaving work of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®, raising over $100 million with the help of our team members and guests. When you Create-A-Pepper, you're supporting St. Jude and helping ensure that no family ever receives a bill for treatment."
The campaign was successful because it encouraged customer loyalty and allowed customers to be creative with their own pepper creations. It also served as an example of how a profit business can partner with a charitable organization to make a positive impact on social issues.
Beauty Bakerie: Juneteenth Festival
Beauty Bakerie, a Black-owned makeup company recognized Juneteenth as the day slavery was abolished in America, by announcing that their celebration of July 4th would be replaced with a special "Juneteenth" Festival. They were one of the many businesses across the US that chose to give preference to this momentous holiday. The weekend-long festival included a site-wide sale, prizes, digital guest speaker panels, flash sales and giveaways, and educational resources. As part of their efforts to promote liberation, peace, and freedom, Beauty Bakerie encouraged their customers to donate or volunteer with various organizations dedicated to protecting civil rights for all.
The beauty brand aims to use its reach and influence throughout the United States to raise awareness about the importance of civil rights. This is why Beauty Bakerie strived not only to host a memorable Juneteenth Festival but also to focus on educating customers on the significance of this special day. Their goal is that by sharing knowledge they can slowly dismantle systems put in place which disregard any human life. With these inspiring actions taken by Beauty Bakerie, it's clear that they are passionate about creating meaningful change in society today.
Patagonia: Worn Wear
Patagonia is the ultimate champion of cause marketing! They've made a name for themselves by creating quality products that are environmentally friendly, and customers are willing to pay extra for the privilege.
Patagonia boldly promoted its eco-conscious position by taking out a full-page ad exposing the environmental impact of its top-selling sweater. With its Responsible Economy campaign, the company doubled down on its belief that rampant over-production and consumption are fueling our planet's environmental woes.
Patagonia really walks the talk with their "Worn Wear" program - they're not just selling clothes; they're teaching you how to love them even more! With repair techs and brand ambassadors leading the way, you'll learn how to breathe new life into your trusty old threads. And if you're feeling particularly proud of your handiwork, you can even share your story on the Worn Wear blog or Instagram channels. Talk about fashion with heart.
Starbucks’ "#WhatsYourName" campaign, which went live in 2020, was an important step forward for trans visibility and acceptance. The powerful commercial tells the story of James, who does not identify with his birth name Jemma and shows us how the mundane action of asking for someone’s name at Starbucks has the potential to be immensely meaningful. Unlike almost every other TV advertisement – where only 0.3% depicted a transgender person prior to this advertisement – Starbucks empowered trans people to be seen and heard as equals who deserved respect and recognition.
In order to accurately depict James’ experience in a sensitive manner, Starbucks collaborated with Mermaids, a charity devoted to supporting gender-diverse children, young people, and families. They also announced they would donate a minimum of £100,000 through their special edition mermaid cookie range. This further demonstrates Starbucks’ commitment to raising awareness about transgender rights and making sure all communities have access to love and acceptance regardless of gender identity or expression.
Cause Marketing as Part of the DNA of the Company
By embedding cause marketing into their business models, the following companies are not only making a positive impact on society but also creating a unique selling proposition that sets them apart from their competitors. Consumers are increasingly looking for companies that are socially responsible and are willing to spend their money on brands that align with their values.
Furthermore, when cause marketing is part of a company's DNA, it becomes a core part of their culture and mission. Employees are more likely to feel motivated and engaged, knowing that the work they do is making a difference in the world. This can also attract like-minded employees who are passionate about social issues and want to work for a company that shares their values.
Cause marketing should not be treated as a one-time campaign or a superficial gesture. Companies that want to make a real impact and build a positive reputation with their customers must integrate cause marketing into their DNA. By doing so, they can create a unique selling proposition, attract like-minded employees, and make a real difference in the world.
BoxLunch isn't just any ordinary pop culture retail store - its entire business model is centered around giving back. For every $10 spent in-store or online, they donate a meal to someone in need through Feeding America. But it doesn't stop there, folks. When you're checking out, their cashiers and automated prompts will ask if you want to round up your total to the nearest dollar to provide even more meals. Talk about using your shopping powers for good.
Toms: Buy a Pair, Give a Pair
Toms, the shoe brand known for their iconic slip-ons and espadrilles, was founded on the idea of giving back. Their “One for One” model means that for every pair of shoes purchased from Toms, a pair of shoes is donated to someone in need. Since 2006, they have given over 60 million pairs of shoes to people in need around the world.
Warby Parker: Buy a Pair, Give a Pair
Warby Parker, the eyewear company, operates on a similar “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” model. For every pair of glasses purchased through Warby Parker, they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need. In addition to its charitable giving program, Warby Parker also offers free eye exams and vision screenings around the world.
Cause-related marketing is an increasingly popular way for businesses to express their social responsibility while gaining public goodwill and customer loyalty. It is a powerful tool when implemented correctly and can create positive impacts on both businesses and society. From environmental issues to social justice, businesses have many opportunities to use cause marketing campaigns to help those in need while promoting their products and services. As more companies engage in this type of marketing, we hope to see an increased positive social impact and greater engagement among corporate partners, non-profit organizations, and consumers.
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