Corporate Responsibility 101: Why Cause Marketing matters to consumers and how to get it right
While corporate responsibility makes consumers and employees take notice of brands, “cause marketing” gives it a heart.
Simply understood, cause marketing aligns a brand with a charitable cause or organisation with the dual goals of generating business and benefitting society. There are countless ways to bring cause marketing to life: it could be co-branded products, brand sponsorship of special events (like charity runs), or incentives for volunteering and donating.
As part of a corporate responsibility strategy, the power of cause marketing lies in its ability to create an all-important emotional connection with consumers and compel action. Research by Nielson shows that 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause. Another study revealed 50% of global consumers would be willing to pay more for their goods and services from companies that give back to society. It’s little wonder cause marketing has become an indispensable part of corporate responsibility.
Here’s how to create a cause marketing strategy for success:
Choose a cause aligned with the company values
Cause marketing is most effective when the organisation is working with a cause or charity its employees and customers believe in – whether that’s funding the fight against cancer, raising awareness of mental health, or supporting indigenous communities. What is close to the hearts of your employees and your customers? Which charities and causes align closely with your company values? Take time to research partners that fully and naturally align with your goals and beliefs. The biggest mistake you could make is to force inauthentic partnerships, as this will only push consumers away.
Involve employees from the start
Corporate responsibility isn’t just about warming the hearts of consumers; you need to get employees on board too. After all, research shows 74% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided with opportunities to make a positive impact at work, while 51% won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social and environmental commitments.
The best way to get employee buy-in is to involve them in your corporate responsibility from the start. For example, Staples runs an annual giving initiative globally each year called 2 Million & Change. This program allows Staples employees to get involved and choose the non-profit organisations to be granted funding from the program. Read our recent blog ‘2 Million and Change Results + Why Corporate Responsibility Makes Good Business Sense’ where we shared that the 2016 grants were awarded to Children’s Medical Research Institute/Jeans for Genes, Redkite and AIME.
Give more than dollars
The most effective cause marketing doesn’t involve simply writing a cheque; it incorporates a range of activities that, together, make a difference. Your goal should be to form a strong consumer association between your products or services and your corporate responsibility actions.
For example, Staples recently launched a range of products that are co-branded as Telethon Kids Institute to be promoted around Australia and supplied to businesses, government organisations and schools. A portion of profits from the sale of these items, which includes notebooks, facial tissues, Karma Kups and more, will be donated to support the Institute’s 250-plus research projects. The initiative strongly aligns with Staples’ global corporate responsibility commitment to support organisations that help disadvantaged kids through education or job skills as well as continuing to support Indigenous communities, and has the potential to impact children, young people and families in every corner of Australia and the globe.
Work in partnership
Cause marketing is a two-way street, so it’s important to work closely with the charitable organisation to ensure any initiatives are a win-win for everyone. How will the organisation help you increase awareness both internally and externally of your corporate responsibility commitments (e.g. newsletters, email communications, social media campaigns)? How can employees get involved with the partnership – are there volunteering opportunities? Working together is easier if you make the partnership a formal part of your corporate responsibility strategy.
There’s no doubt that cause marketing initiatives can bring positive results for both your organisation and the charity – from increased brand exposure to improved employee and consumer engagement as well as a platform for your organisation and people to give back to local communities. The success relies on choosing the right partner and taking the time to work together for mutual rewards. Learn more about Staples’ strong commitment to corporate responsibility and what moves us to give back to our communities, embrace diversity, sustain the environment and practice sound ethics.