There is a burgeoning trend (or tactic) in consumer products and marketers are convinced it’s directly correlated to brand loyalty. According to a study conducted by Cone Communications, 87% of retailers and manufacturers believe that cause marketing makes them stand out from the competition. But how do you use cause marketing and not appear like your are doing so to jump on marketing bandwagon? Here are 5 pointers to consider when weaving cause marketing into your strategy:
- Identify an issue your core consumers care about: Learn what issues your shoppers are most passionate about. Wholefoods for example, had their Help Gardens Grow initiative, which asked for donations for schools to build their own gardens. This is in keeping with the targets values and isn’t a big stretch from Wholefoods ethos either.
- Integrate your cause into the brand for the long term: The strongest cause marketing efforts are those that have true buy-in from every level of the organization and commitment for the long term. Campaign or promotional programs seem inauthentic because of their short lived commitment to the non-profit.
- Engage the community: Store level activation is another great way to engage consumers and demonstrate commitment over the long term. If consumers are experiencing your commitment to the cause, they are likely to remember it and expect to see its progression. Which brings me to my next point.
- Evolve your program: The best programs grow as consumers and technology do. They find new ways to engage consumers and become more meaningful. You don’t have to change the core of what you are doing, but you can certainly evolve how you go about it. Think about Freerice.com. It puts a modern day spin on a long-standing charitable notion.
- Avoid compassion fatigue: When everyone is trying to assign a cause to their marketing programs, consumers can get cynical, or exhausted. Engaging consumers in a personal dialogue is one way to avoid this inundation. Also, involving consumers in the development of the program has proven to encourage loyalty. Co-creation is king these days and if consumers have a hand in developing or evolving the cause, they will feel committed to it.