Cause Blog

6 tips for landing the cause consumer.

by Ed Lord


We often think that Cause Marketing appeals to a different sensibility within our customer. We believe our current customers get gratification out of doing business with an ethical company and will continue doing business with us for that reason. But have we ever examined whether our traditional marketing and our Cause Marketing may be appealing to two entirely different customers? An indication of this came from a Neilsen survey that shows that almost half of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that give back to society. So while much traditional marketing has focused on an ever-lower price point, the cause consumer is actually willing to pay more to the right company. To address the cause consumer, we have to completely change our thinking about marketing.

It’s not brand loyalty, it’s cause loyalty.

The Nielsen survey shows that half of those age 39 and under are cause consumers who expect the companies they deal with to wear white hats. This now runs so deep in the overall consumer psyche now that 89% are willing to switch to a comparable brand that supports a cause.  While we know that supporting causes makes brands look good, the cause consumer may only be loyal to a brand while it supports causes they find worthwhile. We’ve always thought that we have to offer a great product or service at a great price, but that may not appeal to cause consumers at all. Indications are that this group may settle for an inferior product, provided the sacrifice is for a good cause. Obviously cause consumers have a totally different motivation for buying and that requires new approaches in marketing.

6 tips for landing the cause consumer.

  1. Find out what causes matter to your market. It’s not enough to know what causes matter to your current customers, you need to understand what matters to your potential cause customers as well. Do market research to discover the causes that really hit home with them. Adding a few causes that non-customers already support can help bring cause consumers in the door.
  2. Be imaginative. We know that conventional marketing is becoming less effective and in the future is likely to not work at all on the cause consumer. Currently there are signs that even Cause Marketing standbys (like giving at the register) are showing signs of fatigue. With the cause consumer you should try creative new ideas that bring them closer to your cause and closer to your company.
  3. Cater to the cause crowd. If your company takes advantages of cheaper labor in the Third World in order to keep clothing prices low, consider adding a line of clothing with a higher price point that uses organic or recycled materials and fair-trade labor practices. Another possibility is to create projects that improve the lives of your Third World labor force, like building and maintaining a school or clinic. Serving both types of consumers is a fine line to walk, but it’s certainly a way to appeal to cause consumers looking to your company for more responsibility. 
  4. Promote your causes. Make it very obvious who you support around your store or office, in your communications, etc. Wherever you put your logo, there’s an opportunity to put the logos of the causes you support and show the good you’re associated with. 
  5. Meet your cause’s supporters. Connect with the supporters of organizations you partner with through special offers, like a percentage of every purchase goes to the cause. Since this directly benefits the organization, they’re likely to work hard to promote it through their site, eNewsletter and social media. There will definitely be a high number of cause consumers among the ranks of their supporters.
  6. Enter a market with your cause at the forefront. When moving into a market, lead with your cause instead of traditional advertising. Long before your store or office opens, introduce yourself through helping local causes or through your promoting your national cause efforts on the local level. This makes a positive first impression on cause consumers.

Better values, not a better value.

Pleasing the cause consumer and standing out in the marketplace often requires turning your traditional marketing on its head. When you treat them as totally different people from your traditional consumers, it can be helpful in getting a better understanding of their unique motivations.