Lately, consumers have been drawn toward brands that make a good impact on society, whether through charitable causes or brand alignment with non-profit associations. Cause marketing goes beyond traditional marketing by creating the necessity to convince the audience that it is a socially responsible contributor to society. This type of publicity, however, works more seamlessly for some brands than for others. It is important to consider the audience and product before considering promoting a partnership with a non-profit or other charitable cause.
A recent PRweb article by Stacey Miller highlights the trend for brands to want to appear socially conscious as a tactic to gain visibility and promote the brand’s image; however it cannot be a universally applied tactic. Here is key advice about how to move forward with a cause marketing campaign:
1) Authenticity is key.
You must select a cause that supports your brand’s core values. Avon’s “Breast Cancer Crusade” echoes the company’s values, which encompasses the well-being of women. The cause aligns with the company’s mission and connects with Avon’s customers.
KFC’s “Buckets for a Cure” cause marketing campaign did not coordinate with the fast-food chain’s values and ended up being detrimental to brand image. Consumers felt the campaign was a sales gimmick rather than a true concern for women’s health.
2) Integration is an everyday effort.
The needs of your nonprofit partner should be fully integrated into all marketing endeavors. It’s no longer enough to just sign a check. The success of the “(RED)” campaign and its fight against AIDS is in part due to how big-name organizations such as Coca-Cola, Apple and Starbucks seamlessly merged the foundation’s visions and goals with their own.
3) Are you talking to me?
As with any PR or marketing initiative, you must understand your target demographic. The audience for your cause marketing campaign may be more narrow or broad than your traditional customer demographic, so it’s important to do the research and get to know them.
Cause marketing has to be carefully articulated to appeal to the desired demographic and product image. Without the right insight, a socially conscious campaign can actually hurt the image and integrity of a brand.