Magazine article Marketing

Reaping Benefits

Magazine article Marketing

Reaping Benefits

Article excerpt

Recent research tracked changing consumer and business

attitudes to cause-related programmes.

Back in 1996, when Business in the Community set up an initiative to look

into cause-related marketing, the concept was rarely discussed or considered

in the UK. As part of a series of research studies conducted by Research

International on behalf of Business in the Community, 450 companies,

including 81 of the FTSE 100, were surveyed. The key conclusion was that

businesses were viewing this concept with cautious optimism.

Cautious, no doubt, because companies were concerned about how well the UK

consumer would respond to the technique. While positive evidence existed in

the US, would the enthusiastic response of our American cousins be reflected

over here, or would a marketing alliance between business and charity prove

to be too strange a pair of bedfellows for the UK consumer to accept?

At that stage some companies were already putting a toe in the waters of

cause-related marketing, with over 90% indicating some level of

cause-related marketing spend. Few were willing to go as far as asserting

that cause-related marketing could improve their sales, but many cited

benefits such as enhanced corporate reputation and increased brand awareness

as reasons for setting up programmes.

Yet, underlying the caution, the Corporate Survey showed that there was a

clear sense across these leading businesses that cause-related marketing was

set to grow, with 70% of marketing directors believing that it would

increase in importance over the next few years.

Positive vibes

The Winning Game quantitative consumer research in 1997 demonstrated that

the reaction to cause-related marketing was far more positive than perhaps

businesses had anticipated, with 86% of consumers agreeing that they would

have a more positive image of a company that was involved in a cause-related

marketing scheme and a similarly high number asserting that, if price and

quality were equal, they would be more likely to buy a product associated

with a cause or charity.

Allowing for a certain element of overclaim, these results were still

extremely encouraging and were notably in line with similar US research

carried out a year or so earlier, suggesting that cause-related marketing

could translate successfully across the Atlantic.

To understand the positive consumer response towards cause-related marketing

it is necessary to set it in the context of changing consumer buying

behaviour and consumer expectations of business. The Winning Game research

shows that consumers are not just paying lip service to supporting

charities. Almost two-thirds of UK consumers were already involved in giving

money or time to charities, and a third had translated that concern into

action by buying products recently that were environmentally-friendly or

supported a good cause.

Sophisticated choices

Consumers are already making sophisticated purchase decisions based not only

on monetary and functional factors, but also on ethical considerations. This

attitude extends to an expectation that businesses should also play a part

in changing society for the better. In fact, consumers expect businesses to

do more to support the community than they do charities and religious


This was further substantiated by the third piece of qualitative research

conducted by Research International for Business in the Community, which

showed that cause-related marketing is a method of supporting charities and

causes which is well-suited to modern lifestyles. …

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