Cause Marketing Affects Sales, says New Study

According to research conducted by Cone and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, cause-related marketing can exponentially increase sales. Nearly 200 research participants evaluated a new regional magazine and were exposed to either a cause-related or generic corporate advertisement for one of four focus brands.

Afterward, participants entered a mock convenience store and were given real money to purchase a product in each of the four categories. Their subsequent purchase decisions revealed the following:

•    74% increase in actual purchase for a shampoo brand when associated with a cause (47% of participants who saw the cause-related message chose the brand, while only 27% who said the generic corporate advertisement chose the brand);
•    28% increase in actual purchase for a toothpaste brand when associated with a cause (64% of participants who saw the cause message chose the target brand versus 50% who viewed the generic corporate advertisement); and,
•    Modest increases in the other two product categories tested (chips and lightbulbs); qualitative consumer responses showed that the issue, the nonprofit and the inherent nature of products were key factors in making cause-related purchasing decisions and helped explain why movement in these categories was not significant.

Additionally, Cone conducted the 2008 Cause Evolution Study to better identify what drove substantial product sales for two of the four brands. The following factors appeared to be important when deciding to support a company’s cause efforts:

•    84% want to select their own cause;
•    83% say personal relevance is key;
•    80% believe the specific nonprofit associated with the campaign matters;
•    77% say practical incentives for involvement, such as saving money or time, are important; and,
•    65% find emotional incentives for involvement, such as it making them feel good or alleviating shopping guilt, is important.

Source: Cone & Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

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