September 12th, 2010
12:04 PM GMT
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Every year, companies spend billions of dollars on good causes. But in this challenging economy, corporate giving is taking on a new level of importance.

"Cause Marketing" is a term coined in the 1980s. But today, it's becoming a popular method for companies to get through tough times, and build their brands.

We are accustomed to big companies like Pepsi and Nike getting behind global causes, but smaller businesses can get in on the action as well.

I profiled a small company, Guy Harvey Inc., that reports record revenues in 2008/2009, at the height of the recession, and management credits Cause Marketing with the success.

A pioneer in this field, Harvey says the cause started as an authentic desire to save the world’s oceans, and became a business strategy much later on.

"Sometimes you need to have money to do the good," says Harvey, "and I feel good to be in this position now, to have the influence to really make a difference."

Carol Cone, an expert on marketing and the author of "Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding" says companies spent more than $9 billion in 2001 on charitable causes. The challenge, she says, his ensuring they meet their business objectives at the same time.

According to Cone, recent surveys show six out of 10 consumers say they are more loyal to a company that backs a cause. Social media is an important factor in the success of cause marketing. Cone says, "By word of mouth and social media, consumers can find out what a company truly stands for. Consumers want to be in control, they want to feel empowered to be good, so this really resonates."



soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Sven-Erik Pihl

    What is important for companies in the future is not just a little sponsorship for a football match and a check of their energy waist or polution on other fronts... By developing a hub for CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility where environmental, energy as well as social/community 'impact' is addressed. In turn "Cause Marketing" can profile, support and help develop a sustainable future for the company as well as the people and markets it serves.

    As the article mentioned in this era of social media there are no borders to consumer/customer awareness of good and bad company action and policies. Of course ISO 'quality' certification of CSR is just around the corner multinational companies are becoming very aware of this.

    September 13, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  2. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Colleen,
    Top of the day to you,
    Cause marketing always works.Consumers generally hardly forget companies behind good causes like you rightly pointed out.It sounds good and worthy of emulation.Cheers.

    September 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  3. Jeff Mowatt

    As a small business we joined the UK verification scheme known as See What You Are Buying Into as a founder member.

    Our cause has been to leverage investment for childcare reform and social enterprise in Eastern Europe and it began in 1996 with a thesis describing a company whose charter was modified to reflect a primary social objective,

    It"s called People-Centered Economic Development or People-Centered Economics.

    September 15, 2010 at 4:40 am |

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