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Can You Cause Market to Men?

In the Summer of 2011 results starting coming out from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study and among the headlines was women are generally more responsive to cause marketing than men, providing further confirmation of what many have long suspected.

But men aren’t absent from the cause marketing equation. I asked the Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) at Georgetown University, which authored the study, to parse out responses from men on key issues and they kindly obliged.

Cause marketing targeted to men is a topic of some interest to cause marketers. Cause marketing is a form of sponsorship. Its biggest rival for sponsorship dollars comes from sports, which as a whole is about seven times larger than cause marketing. Men constitute the usual target market for sports. In short, men participate in sponsorship in a big way. But cause marketers are still learning how to target men.

The topic of men and cause marketing also came up at a recent Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. Mike Swenson, president of Crossroads, the PR arm of the independent agency Barkley in Kansas City, blogged about the session on his fine blog Citizen Brand.

Barkley’s own research on the topic of men and cause marketing suggests, in Mike’s words, that “men do have a heart.”

So how do cause marketers get men into the cause marketing tent, how do we get them to act and how do we know when their involved?

The answers are intriguing and in some cases suggests new entres into the psyches of men when it comes to cause marketing.

The CSIC study asked, “How men first get involved with a cause?”
  •     Talking to others about it 39%
  •     Donating money 38%
  •     Learning more about the issue and its impact 35%
  •     Signing a petition for the cause 25%
  •     Donating personal items (clothes, points, hair, etc) 23%
  •     Buying products/services from companies who support the cause 14%
One of the conclusions that Swenson draws is that the best way to get to men is to ask them to do something. That’s probably sound. Men and boys bond with each other by doing stuff together. It’s likely they will best bond with a cause in similar ways. Although the CSIC study also demonstrates that men are as willing to practice checkbook philanthropy as they are to support a cause by doing.

If cause marketers are serious about targeting men, they need a better understanding of what men are about when it comes to supporting causes.

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