Consumers Like Companies with Causes

September 20, 2010

Eighty-three percent of US consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about, according to a new study from strategy/communications agency Cone LLC.

The “2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study” also indicates 88% of Americans say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing, 85% of consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about, and 90% of consumers want companies to tell them the ways they are supporting causes.

Causes Help Convert New Customers
Eighty percent of Americans are likely to switch brands, about equal in price and quality, to one that supports a cause. In addition, 61% of Americans will try a new brand or brand they’ve never heard of before, 46% will try a generic/private label brand (as opposed to a name brand) and 19% will buy a more expensive brand.


Causes Influence Consumer Preferences
Supporting social and environmental causes has a large impact on how a brand drives consumer preferences. Seventy-nine percent of consumers say supporting a cause affects which companies they want to see doing business in their community, 76% say it affects which products and services they recommend to other people, 75% say it affects what they buy or where they shop, 69% say it affects where they work, and 59% say it affects what stocks/mutual funds they buy.


Cause Branding Most Important for Food/Beverage
As shown in the chart below, the largest percentage of consumers (82%) say cause branding is important for the food/beverage industry. However, more than three-quarters of consumers say cause branding is also important for a wide variety of other industries:


Moms, Millennials More Cause Sensitive

Mothers and members of the millennial generation (roughly defined as those born 1977-1994) are more sensitive to business support of causes than consumers as a whole. For example, while 88% of consumers believe cause marketing is acceptable, that percentage rises to 94% of Millennials and 95% of moms.


Differences are most pronounced in two areas. Seventy-three percent of both moms and Millennials will try a new/unknown brand because it supports a particular cause, compared to 61% of total consumers. In addition, 26% of moms and 27% of Millennials will buy a more expensive brand, compared to 19% of overall consumers.

Economic Development Top Cause
When asked to name leading issues they think companies should address, the largest percentage of consumers said economic development (such as job creation and income generation) and health and disease (77% each). Hunger followed closely at 76%. Other leading issues include education (75%), access to clean water (74%), and disaster relief and environment (73% each).


Consumers Save with Generic Brands
In addition to being more likely to purchase a generic brand if it supports a cause, two-thirds of US consumers have bought more generic brands in the past six months to save money, according to the findings of a recent Harris Poll. Purchasing more generic brands was by far the most popular money-saving response to the ongoing recession in the past six months, with 65% of consumers saying they have done this. Another 13% have considered doing so.

About the Data: The 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study presents the fi ndings of an online survey conducted July 29-30, 2010 by ORC among a demographically representative US sample of 1,057 adults comprising 512 men and 545 women 18 years of age and older.


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