Design | Marketing

Cause and effect: The case for cause marketing

Lightning-fast Internet speeds, mobile technology, and international business have brought the world closer together than ever before. With this closeness comes an awareness of the global hardships that many ignored in the past.

As consumers become more aware of the inequality surrounding them, they seek to make difference. Cause marketing – the cooperative effort between a for-profit and a non-profit for their mutual benefit – gives people the opportunity and knowledge they need to help. Profit-generating, powerful global brands have the resources to raise awareness of nonprofit organizations, while also promoting their product.

The principles of cause marketing refer to aligning a brand with a cause to produce profitable and societal benefits for both parties. These mutual benefits can include the creation of social value, increased connection with the public, and the communication of shared value, as well as profit.

Cause marketing is a relatively new field in the marketing arena, introduced in 1976 through a partnership between Marriot Corporation and the March of Dimes. The two worked together to promote Marriot’s family entertainment complex in Santa Clara California while raising funds for the March of Dimes’ cause – the prevention of birth defects in babies. The campaign was successful on both counts, and corporations around the globe followed suit.
Today, cause marketing campaigns to run the gamut from large, global causes to smaller, local efforts. General examples of cause marketing include public awareness campaigns for breast cancer, licensing of charity trademarks for use in sales, and requests for donations in-store check-out lanes.

Because there are many faces of cause marketing, it is often mistaken for corporate philanthropy or social marketing when it is markedly different from both. Incorporate philanthropy, businesses donate funds to a cause without the expectation of corporate gain. In social marketing, non-profit organizations use guerrilla techniques to try to impact negative societal behavior like pollution or drunken driving. 

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