Two New Surveys Show Consumers Expect and Support Cause Marketing

Two surveys out this week uncover new insights about the push and pull of cause marketing.

In the first, the Cause Marketing Forum looks for million-dollar cause marketing campaigns at checkout and finds 63 of them generating a total of $358.4 million. That’s an average of $5.6 million per campaign. But the average is pulled up by the first five donations that total more than $150 million by themselves.

The Cause Marketing Forum is meeting in Chicago so I haven’t had the chance to talk with them, but I suspect that in the years to come this survey will turn up much bigger numbers.

The big winners are children’s charities. Forty-seven percent of the total raised went to the name-brand children’s charities; Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Easter Seals, March of Dimes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, etc.

One surprise was eBay’s number. The online company generated $54 million for 22,000 charities, the most of any company on the list. The other surprise was Safeway, which generated more than $37 million for its various cause partners. Safeway is the second largest grocery-only chain in the country, but it is concentrate in the West. Conspicuous by its absence was Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer and the fifth largest retailer in the world.

The Cause Marketing Forum lists a number of reasons why cause marketing at checkout works, none-the-least of which is longevity. But a predominant reason is covered by the 2013 Cone Communications / Echo Global CSR Study, namely consumers expect it.

“Consumers across the globe resoundingly affirm CSR as a critical business strategy,” says Dan Soulas, managing director of Echo Research. “It is vital for companies to understand the unique, market-level nuances to effectively participate in the CSR interchange. A one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work.”

CSR bears fruit beyond positive feelings. Cone / Echo finds that when companies support social or environmental issues, consumers reward them with greater affinity:
Because retailers have front line relationships with consumers, cause marketing at checkout continues to make a lot of sense.

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