Cause-related marketing can increase sales as much as 74% in certain consumer-goods categories, and consumers spend twice as long looking at cause-related ads than generic corporate ones, according to a study by Cone and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
The 2008 Cone/Duke University Behavioral Cause Study finds a strong link between cause-related marketing and consumer choice.
After participants were exposed to either a cause-related or a generic corporate ad for one of four focus brands in the toothpaste, shampoo, chips and light-bulb categories, they entered a mock convenience store with nearly 150 SKUs and were given real money to purchase a product of each type.
Shopping behavior revealed higher sales in two of the four categories (toothpaste and shampoo), and modest increases in the other two categories (chips and light bulbs) because of the cause-related ads:
Related, qualitative consumer responses showed that the issue, the nonprofit organization involved with the brand, and the inherent nature of products were key factors in cause-related purchasing decisions and helped explain why movement in these categories was not significant, the study said.
To validate these sales increases for shampoo and toothpaste, Cone and Duke then replicated the study online among a sample of more than 1,000 adults. They found:
“One thing we know for sure – consumers are paying more attention to cause messages, and as a result are more likely to purchase,” said Gavan Fitzsimons, Duke marketing professor and lead researcher on the study. “This is clearly great news for brand managers, as every percentage increase can translate to millions of dollars in revenue.”
About the survey: The 2008 Cone/Duke University Behavioral Cause Study consists of a two-phase research methodology. The first phase was conducted throughout October and December 2007 in a behavioral lab study at Duke University among a random sample of 182 participants, age 18-62. The second phase, conducted online in July 2008, consisted of a demographically representative US sample of 1,051 adults, including 625 women and 426 men.
Subscribe now to receive more charts and articles like this in your inbox. A fast read in a clean, mobile-friendly design.