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Cause marketing impacts brand affinity, sales not so much
When it comes to supporting a cause through purchasing products Americans are all talk but not much action, according to the findings of a new study from BlogHer and Ketchum's recently launched Cause Consumer Engagement specialty.
Cause marketing programs have a far greater impact on a brand's reputation and share of voice than it does on sales, found the study which forms part of the BlogHer 2011 Social Media Matters Study of which Ketchum is a co-sponsor.
Consumers may talk and share information about a brand's intentions, or even "Like" a brand on Facebook because of it, but few go on to make a purchase. Almost a quarter of consumers (23%) said they had changed brands to one that supported a cause they supported, but twice that number said they'd talked about a cause via social media.
So how can brands best position themselves to move consumers to make purchases?
Brands must identify causes that consumers are passionate about, or that have a direct effect on either them or their loved ones, and keep the proposition simple.
Keeping an offer local will appeal to many would-be supporters. Almost half (46%) of those surveyed said they were motivated to buy products from companies who donate to local schools and organizations. Among older adults aged 65 to 76 that figure jumps to 70%.
"Too often, brands focus on causes that are less relevant to consumers and later wonder why there is no impact on sales," said Melissa Kinch, senior vice president and associate director of Ketchum's North American Corporate Practice.
"While there's certainly still a place for longer-term reputational cause or responsibility programs that educate customers about causes, short-term sales are clearly driven by addressing consumers' personal passions."
Also highlighted was the need for the method of support to be simple and half (48%) were most receptive to clear-cut programs that donate a percentage of sales to the chosen cause.
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