The Rising Demand for Brands with a Cause

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By: Shea Posey, Senior Account Executive and Jake McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve likely noticed that cause marketing has become increasingly popular over the past couple of decades. Why is that? The answer is simple: because consumers are demanding it. In fact, according to a recent Zeno report, consumers are four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion and protect companies with a strong purpose over those with a weaker one.

It’s no surprise that younger generations are leading the charge of holding brands more accountable. 92% of Gen-Z and 90% of Millennials are more likely to act in support of a purposeful brand. However, the overwhelming majority of Gen-X consumers (81%), Baby Boomers (77%) and Matures aged 74 and up (73%) share the same sentiment.

The call for a cause is becoming more urgent. According to Havas’ 2021 Meaningful Brands Report, we are entering an age of cynicism, with less than half of brands being seen as trustworthy. Despite this cynicism, consumers are desperately seeking brands that will make a meaningful difference, with 73% saying brands must act now for the good of society and the planet. And if that isn’t enough to convince marketers to think outside the bottom line, more than half of the respondents in this report say they are willing to pay more for a brand that takes a stand.

With brand trust at an all-time low and social consciousness at an all-time high, it’s no longer enough for brands to just sell their name and products. The demand for cause marketing has never been greater. But, as with all marketing, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

So, what is it that makes consumers feel the need to factor in something that has absolutely nothing to do product quality, brand reputation or price when considering their purchases? From a psychological standpoint, it has to do with how we process information emotionally. This is also why some cause marketing campaigns are successful while others are epic failures.

When we think of cause marketing campaigns, it’s easy to come up with some great examples:

  • Subaru’s Love Promise
  • Dove’s body image positivity initiative
  • Warby Parker’s “Buy one, Give One” eyeglasses promotion

However, it’s just as easy to come up with some campaigns that didn’t go over so well:

  • KFC’s Buckets for a Cure
  • Kendall Jenner changing the world, one Pepsi at a time
  • The golf course that offered nine holes of golf for $9.11 on the anniversary of 9/11

The key to making sure that you’re on the good side of cause marketing lies in knowing the psychology behind emotional access and understanding how consumers are going to respond to your message. Even the negative campaigns started out with good intentions, but the people behind them were blind to how consumers would respond to that combination of product and cause.

A cause marketing campaign is an effective strategy for yielding a stronger reputation, brand affinity, and ultimately, bottom line results. However, it requires careful thought and an understanding of the psychology behind system 1 thinking and emotional access. Give us a call at 833-579-1905 or email us at [email protected] to discuss how we can help you turn psychological insights into great creative advertising.