Published on: October 9, 2008Now available on iTunes…
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Brand Week had a piece the other day about cause-related marketing, noting that something called the 2008 Cone Cause Evolution Study “found that 79% of respondents said they would switch brands (provided price and quality were equal) to the one that is associated with a good cause.”
In addition, according to Brand Week, “eighty-five percent of respondents said they have a more positive image of a company when it supports a cause they care about. The same percentage said it was acceptable for companies to promote their affiliation with nonprofit organizations in their ads. And, 38% have purchased a product associated with a cause in the last year.”
Additional studies conducted about this subject have demonstrated that, indeed, products associated with causes can see stronger sales increases than equivalent products with no such association.
There may be no better example of cause-related marketing than the Newman’s Own line of products, which a quarter-century ago was created for the express purpose of funding a wide variety of charities. Actor Paul Newman, who started the project with writer AE Hotchner, probably had no idea how varied. By the time he died late last month from cancer, Newman’s various food products had donated more than a quarter-billion dollars to charity. And all the time he remained good humored about his efforts, deeming them “shameless exploitation in the common good.”
I can tell you from personal experience – and I’m sure a lot of other people feel the same way – that buying his products did give a sense of doing some good. It made buying spaghetti sauce about more than just buying spaghetti sauce. A purchase was as much about values as value.
And it didn’t hurt that the products tended to be very, very good.
I see press releases all the time from companies that are associating themselves with a variety of causes – everything from breast cancer awareness to heart health. And I have to say that while I have not calculated or quantified it, my impression of the food industry is that it is filled with people and companies that are extraordinarily generous.
While it somehow seems inconsistent with the act of charity to publicize it, in this case I don't think so. Telling people what you are doing with regard to various charities gives visibility to the cause…and in the end, that’s what you’re trying to do. The fact that it can be good for bottom line is just gravy.
There have been a lot of stories on the news in recent days, as the economy falters and none of the headlines seem positive, about how it is widely expected that charities are going to really suffer because of events over which they have no say or influence. If people have less money, the reasoning goes, they will have less to give.
While some of this is inevitable, I suspect that we may be surprised by how generous people manage to be, even in tough times. Companies may have to restructure their charitable activities to some degree, but I’m guessing that we’re still going to see plenty of “shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good.”
It is in times like these that we find out what people and companies are made of. I don't think we’re going to be disappointed.
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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