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BizReport : Advertising archives : October 05, 2010

What to expect from cause marketing in 2010 holiday season

During the 2009 holiday shopping season many brands received a lift from partnerships with non-profit organizations. As we've made our way through three major 2010 holidays - Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day, cause marketing has continued to grow. Two cause marketing experts offer insight into what brands and marketers might receive from a 2010 holiday cause marketing campaign.

by Kristina Knight

"All of the available evidence suggests that not only will [cause marketing] be more of the same during the 2010 holiday season, but also that incorporating cause incentives and social responsibility initiatives into commercial operations is a long term trend," said Jana Taylor, Vice President of Marketing with Benevity, a software company that helps companies develop cause marketing and other charitable giving initiatives. "Recent research from pioneering cause marketing consultancy Cone noted that despite the growth in cause related offers, 83% of consumers wish more of the products, services and retailers they use would support causes."

Megan Strand with Incouraged Communications agrees. "Charity gift cards like those from or Benevity are gaining in popularity since they provide for consumer choice. I wouldn't be surprised to see company holiday parties bypassed yet again in exchange for employee volunteer and donation programs. The name of the game is consumer and employee involvement - the more you're able to meaningfully involve and activate the 'people' component, the better."

So, how can brands become better involved with cause marketing efforts? By partnering with a cause that is relevant to them. Contrary to popular belief, a brand doesn't have to be 'related' to a cause - for instance a bra company becoming involved with Breast Cancer Research. However, a bra company who foregoes aligning with Breast Cancer Research and instead aligns with a Prostate Cancer Research organization may miss the mark, too. What matters is that the communications from brands to consumers about the cause be relevant, authentic and allow choice.

"Consumers are savvy and can see right through an inauthentic cause campaign. In a way, cause marketing can be a bigger risk than a traditional marketing campaign. If your latest marketing campaign is ineffective, odds are the worst that would happen is that you'd be ignored. Mess up on a cause campaign from an authenticity standpoint, you may well get skewered," said Strand.

"Everything points to more local and customized solutions," said Taylor. "We're definitely seeing a growing appetite for local or more personally relevant cause marketing offers and...movement away from some large 'big brand' charity aggregators. The challenge for many companies is how to easily onboard charities in all the regions that they operate in and how to present these offers to their consumers in a most cost-effective way."

This is where platforms like that from Benevity come in because brands can make use of its customized giving engine which allows them to create local cause portfolios, implement flexible giving options, matching programs and give consumers more choice. These are all increasingly essential elements of effective cause marketing campaigns.

On Thursday in part two of our Cause Marketing series: a few tips from Jana and Megan about creating a 2010 holiday giving campaign.

Tags: 2010 holiday advertising, Benevity, cause campaign, cause marketing, InCouraged Communications, non-profit partnerships

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