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Cause Marketing Research I'd Like to See

Scarcely a week goes by that someone doesn’t release a study or survey about cause marketing. And yet there’s still some research I’d like to see.

Since the New Year I’ve seen studies, findings or surveys related to cause marketing from the following:
  • IEG projects cause marketing spending to grow in 2012 by 3.1 percent to $1.73 billion.
  • Among other findings, the fourth Edelman Good Purpose Consumer Study found that the emerging markets of Mexico, Brazil, China and India were most willing to buy a brand that supports a cause.
  • Landor Associates released its annual Global Corporate Reputation Index and highlighted the cause marketing work of Google and Ford.
  • An outfit called Wide Angle surveyed its consumer panel and found them more willing to give $1 from a purchase rather than winning a meal at restaurant they’ve been wanting to try.
  • Nielsen surveyed Vietnamese consumers and found that 80 percent prefer to do business with companies that seem to be giving back.
That’s a reasonably broad mix of cause marketing research in less than a quarter, and yet even in the aggregate that’s not very satisfying. It’s like popcorn at movies. You eat it and it’s filling, but it’s a poor substitute for a real meal.

What would I like to see?
  • I’d like to see more real sales data from companies that cause market. I’d prefer to see actual company and brand names, but I understand that’s a sticky wicket. So even if the data was veiled I’d be OK with that.
  • I’d like to see more data coming out of the social networks when they’re used as a means of campaign activation in cause marketing. We all know that Facebook and Google + and the others generate boatloads of data, but that data is closely guarded. We know why that is for companies. This is one of the ways Facebook makes its money. But couldn’t they break lose some of this data in cases of cause marketing?
  • A few years back Cone and Duke put people in a C-store like setting and then gauged how people reacted to cause marketing appeals in a consumer behavior study. I’d love to see more of that. With eyeball tracking and the like.
  • Professional scholars love to do meta-analysis wherein they look at numerous studies and draw their own conclusions. There’s a little of meta-analysis of cause marketing around, but it’s gotten a little grey around the temples. In the meantime, and a lot of other cause marketing studies have been undertaken in the years since.
  • I’d like to see financial performance for companies that do cause marketing. For instance, has General Mills, which does a lot of cause marketing across dozens of its brands, outperformed Kellogg’s (which does less) over the last, say, 10 years controlling for other factors?
  • Finally, I’d like to see some studies that address packaging and cause marketing. Specifically, I’m dying to know what works when it comes to packaging design and what doesn’t.

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