How can charities impact consumer loyalty toward companies?

14-07-18 Market researchRemember when you bought iconic brands like Kleenex, Tide, or Pampers …because they were some of the best known brands on the market and perhaps because it was the brand your parents bought before you?

That kind of loyalty is dissolving into thin air, suggests a new study released last month by Veritas Communications and Northstar. The findings from this study point to some interesting opportunities for charities to develop cause partnerships with companies.

According to the loyalty study, consumers are shifting their behaviors (and brands) incredibly quickly and dramatically:

  • 74% of respondents have switched a preferred brand or service in the last year, with an additional 69% looking to make a change in the year ahead
  • More than half of respondents (58%) admitted to spending a lot of time researching products, and 68% sought out advice from others prior to making a purchase

When I read this study, I quickly cross referenced the findings from 2013 cause marketing research our company causemark conducted on behalf of clients suggesting causes and charities have the opportunity to become important influencers in purchase consideration for corporate brands. Consider the following insights in combination with those of the Veritas study.

  • 67% of consumers say they trust a company more when the company shares awareness information about a cause those consumers believe in
  • 75% of consumers say they are likely to switch from one product to another if a company supports a cause they believe in, assuming quality and price are similar
  • 69% of consumers have purchased a product in the past year where a portion of sales supported a cause or charity

What is the opportunity charities should jump on?

These consumer trends present real opportunities for charities facing increasing challenges finding new and efficient ways to fund their initiatives supporting their mission. The opportunity is to raise money AND awareness through cause marketing, championed (and paid for) by companies seeking to inject “purpose” into their general marketing in an attempt to shore up loyalty.

To cash in on these shifts in consumer behaviours, charities can’t just sit back and wait for companies to come to them. They must be strategic and infuse better marketing in their fundraising strategies.

How can charities help companies solve their brand loyalty problem?

What we’re experiencing in fundraising trends is consumers have become more “participatory” in the charity brands they engage with. This is where there’s a big opportunity for charities because at the same time, companies are looking to sponsor cause campaigns with there is a participating community attached rather than just receiving logo exposure. One of the biggest trends in fundraising today is charities building engaging peer-to-peer campaigns. We need only to look at the success of a few participatory campaigns organized by charities and championed by companies, such as:

  • As you think about how your own traditional campaigns are waning, I ask you to consider finding new ways to create peer-to-peer participation with your cause and to invite companies to help champion the message, thereby becoming partners in and beneficiaries of the (authentic) conversation you’ve opened the door for.Red Nose Day in the UK (Do something funny for money) 14-07-18 research corporate championsis a hugely successful campaign raising over £100 million ($180 million CDN) annually for Comic Relief to transform lives across the UK and Africa through a variety of fundraising activities of the participants’ choice. Sainsbury’s is a corporate champion that has contributed and raised over $88 million through its activations.
  • Movember (Grow a moustache) raises over $140 million CDN globally each year for prostate cancer research and mental health initiatives with many companies engaging their employees as participants with the payback of more satisfied and engaged employees. Movember is also attracting aligned corporate partners like Gilette, the “grooming partner,” and Fosters, “the Art of Shaving” to help champion the cause as funding and awareness partners.
  • Fundraising innovator charity: water (Give up your birthday) raises over $30 million CDN annually through crowdsourcing to provide clean water in third world countries. The charity has recently continued its innovations with its new waterforward campaign, a network fundraising model that builds on the “pay it forward” idea. Since its inception, charity: water has enjoyed the support of a range of individual and corporate donors. Angel investors like Michael and Xochi Birch have given over $10 million dollars and companies give a range of in-kind support to cover charity operations so charity: water can make the claim to donors that 100% of their donation will go to fund water projects.

As you think about how your own traditional campaigns are waning, I ask you to consider finding new ways to create peer-to-peer participation with your cause and to invite companies to help champion the message, thereby becoming partners in and beneficiaries of the (authentic) conversation you’ve opened the door for.

The good news is that social and digital channels have vastly increased the ability of charities to be part of this consumer conversation, potentially at a lower cost than some traditional marketing like direct response. With donors and media increasingly paying attention to the cost of fundraising, charities need to find more efficient ways to raise money and awareness. Social and digital channels provide opportunities to do what they could not traditionally do with expensive traditional “push” advertising. With more than half of consumers discussing products with friends and family before purchase, it’s not a stretch to understand the link between peer-to-peer conversations and engagement with causes and corporate brands. (It’s already occurring so it’s time to get on board.)

The bottom line, if you want to attract some of the significant marketing budgets of companies as support for your charity, is to create new opportunities for consumers to “participate” in movements and invite corporate champions to be part of the conversation with the “participating community” you bring to the table. The result can be a win-win with your charity seeking to raise more money, and companies seeking to shore up loyalty for their brand and products.


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