How To Develop an Attractive Cause Marketing Strategy To Capture the Woke Consumer


We live in an era where consumers do not care just about a brand’s products or quality. They are increasingly expecting brands to stand for a social cause. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Global ReportOpens a new window , 73% of over 34,000 respondents worldwide said that a company can take actions that increase profits and improve the local community’s conditions.

In the information age, more consumers have access to information about business practices that may once have been hidden. From shoes manufactured in sweatshops to products causing deforestation, people increasingly care about these topics. They believe that brands have more responsibility than ever in addressing issues concerning society. Cause marketing is an opportunity where brands can champion a social cause and earn a profit as a bonus.

However, developing a cause marketing campaign that communicates your message effectively to your consumers while improving revenues can be tricky. Here are a few tips to help you create a strong cause marketing strategy.

Learn more: U.S. Election 2020: How Brands Can ‘Stay Woke’ With Millennials and Gen Z

1. Identify a Cause That Resonates With Your Brand

The first step toward creating a cause marketing strategy is identifying a social issue you want to take up. While identifying business goals you want to achieve from ‘cause marketing’ is essential, it is first necessary to determine what social issue you want to stand for.

In the Philippines, Hope, the bottled water company, donates 100% of its profitsOpens a new window towards building public school classrooms, impacting more than 19,600 students to date.

Your organization need not donate 100% of its profits. However, it is necessary to choose a cause you can identify with. To determine the right cause to take up, you should understand what your brand values are. For example, PatagoniaOpens a new window , an outdoor clothing and gear design company based out of California, has a mission statement that reads, “We’re in business to save our home planet.” Patagonia has been actively involved in fighting for environmental issues.

Understanding what your brand represents and what your customers expect will help you identify the right social issue and a non-profit entity to partner with.

In addition to identifying a cause that fits your brand, you should also look at selecting a cause your organization and employees can relate to emotionally and rally behind. When your employees feel an emotional connection, they will feel engaged and work with passion to achieve the best results.

2. Identify the Right Partner

If you plan to partner with a non-profit organization (NPO) for your cause marketing campaign, it is necessary to do thorough research about the organization. Understand its background and whether its values and principles align with those of your brand. Determine if the NPO will also be a good match to work with you. Identify the synergies that make the partnership robust, thereby offering mutual benefits.

Once you have shortlisted the potential partners, you should research their capabilities and limitations. Determine whether their existing infrastructure can keep up with your requirements. Further, check if they have maintained their financial and organizational records well to ensure that you are partnering with a legitimate entity. It will also help if the NPO is social media savvy. Having a strong social media presence can be beneficial for both entities as you can gain more exposure and encourage donations/contributions.

For many organizations, doing this research may occur as committing valuable resources in terms of people, time, and money. An alternative way is to outsource it to organizations that specialize in this field. Some of these organizations not only help you find the right fit but also identify the dollar-to-impact ratio that will suit your organization.

3. Go Beyond Donating Dollars

Money is undoubtedly necessary to achieve cause marketing goals. However, your organization should go beyond providing mere financial support. You need to support your NPO partner or your team responsible for cause marketing with time, skills, and expertise. You should also integrate the cause directly into your organization.

Your organization’s actions should involve more than beautiful ads and a call to action. You should act through advocacy. Advocacy undoubtedly begins with your organization’s purpose and commitment of funds. However, the driver of brand equity is the organization’s willingness to drive change.

For example, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special ReportOpens a new window : Brands and Racial Justice, if your organization actively takes steps to address racial injustice, you are four times more likely to win customer trust than lose it. This means that brands that take action to drive real change will earn greater trust from customers.

An excellent example of a brand with a specific cause ingrained in its organization’s core value is The Body Shop. The brand has always been against animal testing and has carved a reputation for being socially conscious due to its stance.

Here is a video that shows the brand’s commitment to fight against animal testing.

Learn more: 3 Not-So-Obvious Ways To Build Trust in Your Brand

4. Actively Involve Your Employees and Customers

It is not sufficient to take your team and employees’ opinions when identifying a cause or partnering with an NPO. It is also necessary to actively involve them in your cause marketing activities and decisions. Not all of your employees may be inclined to support the cause at all times. Hence, it is necessary to keep them inspired and engaged in helping your organization and the NPO partner meet the goals. Achieving cause marketing goals is a team effort.

Getting your staff involved goes beyond using hashtags and viral content. Patagonia does an excellent job in this regard. Besides donating at least 1% of the sales to grassroots organizations worldwide, the company commits to a multitude of environmental conservation projects.

Here is an example of how Patagonia participates in environmental conservation projects.

Besides the members from your organization, inspire your customers to get involved in achieving your social cause. One way to do this is to use relevant hashtags with your social posts and use captions that elicit positive responses from your audience. If you see that some of your consumers are closely aligned with your cause, you can partner with them to get support from more people.

Patagonia even encourages its customers not to buy one of its jacketsOpens a new window , addressing the issue of consumerism. The company stresses that everyone needs to consume responsibly to lighten the environmental footprint.

Don’t buy this jacket

Source: PatagoniaOpens a new window

Patagonia’s concern for the environment shows, and its customers rally around the commitment.

5. Spread the Word

Once you have done the necessary groundwork of identifying the cause you want to rally behind and the partners you want to work with, it is vital to spread the word to as many people as possible. Hence, run a marketing campaign with the goal of reaching and persuading more people to join your cause while creating loyalty for your company. Ensure that you plan the budget for the entire duration of the campaign before launching it.

While running a campaign, ensure that you make the best use of digital platforms, including owned media such as your website and social media handles, paid and earned media. For example, if a news outlet or a PR agency writes about your business and the social cause you have taken up, you gain better visibility and goodwill. Advertising on social media and other digital platforms creates more awareness about your brand and cause and gets more customers involved.

When running a social media campaign, keep the following points in mind:

    • Use hashtags for your posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other platforms you plan to use.
    • Use compelling images, videos, and content to generate interest and engagement.
    • Experiment with various content formats, such as images, videos, memes, and gifs, to increase the chance of your campaign’s success.
    • Create a social community of audience who are advocates of your brand and cause.
    • Leverage user-generated content to act as social proof of your efforts.

Further, when running the campaign, ensure that you use appropriate digital tools to measure and optimize your campaign to improve its effectiveness.

One of the best examples of a cause marketing campaign is that of the U.K-based supermarket, Iceland. In its 2018 Christmas advertisement, Iceland highlighted palm oil — a common ingredient used by supermarket foods and products — that is making orangutans an endangered species. Iceland released a video online as part of its Rang-tan campaign, which was banned from TV because of ‘political advertising’.

However, the campaign became so popular that a petition started to bring the video back on TV. Additionally, it led to the creation of the #NoPalmOilChristmas hashtag, raising the campaign’s awareness. It also led to an increase in sales for Iceland’s palm oil-free mince pies by 11% year-on-year since the campaign was launched.

@IcelandFoodsOpens a new window you’ll be glad to hear your advert has had an effect on one little boy Elliott, aged 9 #NoPalmOilChristmasOpens a new window a new window

— nic marsh (@nicm61) December 13, 2018Opens a new window

Learn more: Brand Successes in 2020 We Could Learn From To Nail Creative Campaigns in 2021

Got a Cause You Cannot Let Go?

Cause marketing has gained much importance in recent years to build trust and brand recognition. At the same time, remember that it is not sufficient to limit supporting a social cause only to slogans. It should involve action through advocacy. Hence, be sure that you choose a cause you can genuinely rally behind, do your due diligence, and follow the tips mentioned above to develop a strong cause marketing strategy.

What other tips would you like to provide to create a solid cause marketing strategy? Do let us know on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .