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Men Have a Heart for Cause Marketing

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And we thought women were the best supporters of cause marketing. Surprise! Men actually care about cause nearly as much as women do. The new PRWeek/Barkley PR Cause Survey shows very interesting results that may eventually affect the way companies market their cause programs.

Get a load of these stats:

  • 88% of men say it's important for a brand View Postto support a cause (compared to the 91% of women who responded the same way in last year's study).

  • 61% have purchased a brand because it supported a cause.

  • 67% would try a brand because it supported a cause.

  • 55% would pay more for a brand that supported a cause.

It appears that this interest in causes was spearheaded by Boomer men and taken to heart even more so by Gen X and Gen Y Millennials. These generational findings tie into the 2006 Cone Millennial Cause Study from Cone, Inc. that showed us how civic-minded Millennials are. A majority of them believe that companies have a responsibility to make the world a better place.

So, what types of causes are men more likely to support? Here are their top 3:

  1. Causes that affect children

  2. General health-related causes

  3. Poverty-related causes

So, with all this testosterone devotion, are corporate marketing executives going to target men with their cause efforts? Well, 68% of them say they have no plans to do that. Do you think they may change their minds after considering that over half of respondents said they would pay more for a brand or product because it supports a cause important to them? My guess is that this stat will grow in the next few years as more Millennials enter the workplace.

What do YOU think? Should marketers target men differently than women in their cause marketing efforts?

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A Canadian who relocated to the U.S., Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of SOLUTIONS Marketing & Consulting LLC, a boutique marketing and communications agency located in Scottsdale, Arizona. During her career, Elaine has worked for, and with, many organizations, associations, and businesses, across North America, on marketing strategy and communications tactics.

From her earlier agency career assignments freelance copywriting Procter & Gamble, Nestlé Carnation, and Kraft materials, to “inside” senior-level marketing positions, Elaine’s passion for marketing has evolved to helping clients reach new heights through strategic brand-building, integrated marketing communications, and customer orientation.

She has been a contributing writer for The Business Journal and her articles have appeared in many publications, including the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Marketing News, The Arizona Republic, Advancing Philanthropy, and several association publications. She has been interviewed by CNN, Connect Magazine, and The Capitol Times, and her content was included in Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits by Jay Conrad Levinson, Frank Adkins, and Chris Forbes. Nonprofit Consulting Essentials by Penelope Cagney. and Share of Mind, Share of Heart by Sybil F. Stershic.

Elaine is a Faculty Associate at the Arizona State University Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation and a professional member of the National Speakers Association – she does keynotes and presentations on business and nonprofit marketing, branding, customer orientation, and cause marketing at conferences and meetings.

Elaine’s career has also included stints as a cookbook author, teacher, singer, and television show host. A golf and tennis enthusiast, Elaine is enjoying life in the sunny Sonoran Desert while serving clients across North America.

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  • by Bill Ryan Thu Nov 11, 2010 via blog

    Cause marketing is when the marketer attempts to align the brand with a specific cause or charity to build the brand's image, and it works because it connects the consumer to the brand in a very emotional way. Cause marketers may be reluctant to target men because they tend to be a little less trusting, and a little more skeptical – And maybe the should be.

    A Sept 25th Brand Week article said that Swiffer (a Proctor & Gamble brand) donated only 2 cents of the approximate $20 purchase price of their recent pink package (with the breast cancer ribbon) to fight breast cancer. It also said that Swiffer ONLY gave the 2 cents if the consumer used a special coupon to make the purchase - Otherwise, no donation for that purchase.

    If that's true, it could be viewed as cheap, exploitive and misleading. As business practices become more and more transparent, there's likely to be a consumer backlash (men and women) against the over-commercialization of cause marketing, and against the brands that have been exploiting worthy causes just to make more profits.

    Proctor & Gamble is one of the best marketers in the world, but in this case, they seem to be risking Swiffer's brand image in a very big way. What cause marketers may be about to learn the hard way is that consumer emotion is a double-edged sword. They'll love brands that participate in cause marketing, unless it turns out to be exploitation - Then that emotion is likely to turn consumers against those brands that have been abusing the consumer's trust.

    The alternative to cause marketing is civic marketing. Civic marketing is about volunteering time, talents and resources to serve the needs of the community. Civic marketing can’t become over-commercialized the way cause marketing has, because it’s NOT about fund-raising, and it’s NOT motivated by greed. It’s about service, and doing good in order to build the brand's image.

    Proctor and Gamble's Tide brand has set a perfect, unselfish example for civic marketers to follow, with one of the best civic marketing campaigns to date - the "Tide Loads of Hope" program - for which Proctor & Gamble deserve praise and a lot of consumer loyalty.

  • by Elaine Fogel Sun Nov 14, 2010 via blog

    Bill, first let me thank you for taking the time to post your comments. I linked to your site and discovered your blog, "Civic Marketing," which I enjoyed reading.

    You have underscored one of the major brand risks in corporate cause marketing. To conduct a cause marketing campaign without a holistic commitment to the cause, in my opinion, is brand suicide. Better not to do it at all.

    As in your excellent example, Swiffer is expecting its consumers to jump through hoops for a very small donation return. Or is it? Apparently, unlike many other cause-related programs, where a percentage is donated to the cause with a pre-set ceiling on the donation, the Swiffer campaign is "uncapped.” In that same BrandWeek article, it states that "P&G is counting on high coupon redemption rates rather than setting aside a specific amount."

    I'd be curious to learn just how much this campaign raises for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. If you have any figures, please share. Maybe P & G is testing this new uncapped model.

    One thing's for sure. We're in transition in the cause marketing arena as both companies AND nonprofits test different models to see what works symbiotically for all partners.

    Having worked for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, several years ago, as its first national marketing and communications director, I witnessed a major shift as many of its corporate partners moved their cause marketing initiatives into their marketing and branding departments - and out of community relations. I believe that was a smart and strategic move. As a nonprofit marketer then, I recognized that these cause programs made a huge difference to the coffers of our charities. I'm glad they could make more money as a result, as long as our mission could move forward.

    I think what's happening, too, is that all those with a stake in "cause marketing," have not quite come to terms with one acceptable definition. What used to be called, "cause-related" marketing, now appears to be lumped into the overarching term "cause marketing." Yet, cause-related is more transactional, and cause marketing can include cause promotions, volunteering, and other facets that you include in your definition of "civic" marketing.

    One of the major benefits to companies that practice cause marketing is a more engaged and committed workforce. Less turnover, less absenteeism, and more community involvement that makes them feel good about doing their jobs while making shareholders more money. That's civic marketing, too, at the grassroots level.

    So, maybe at the boardroom and senior management table, we call it "cause marketing," and for the employees and consumers, we call it "civic marketing." No matter the semantics, when it's done authentically, everyone wins. Amen to that. :)

    Thanks again. Your post made me think more about this issue.

  • by Bill Ryan Mon Nov 15, 2010 via blog

    No ceiling? Proctor & Gamble is one of the smartest companies in the world. They know with significant precision what the redemption rate will be before they put out a coupon, and they control the distribution of the coupons. That way they can essentially control how much will be donated. Although P&G hasn't responded to my inquiries, it's a good bet that with this program, whatever the final dollar amount to the charity, the incremental profits (above and beyond what they would have made) from the program were significantly more than the donation.

    Cause marketing is an image-building tool. The problem is that many cause marketers have tried to turn it into a direct response effort, hoping that the pink package will sell more - and it does. The two cent donation is insignificant, but how about donating it on all sales of the pink package, and not just when the coupon is used. When a product has a pink package and the breast cancer ribbon, I think it's fair, for consumers, to assume that purchasing it should somehow benefit the cause.

    On the topic of terminology, I agree that the semantics are not what's important. Although "cause-related marketing" actually seems like a more general term than "cause marketing" both terms have long been defined by a brand trying to align with a specific cause or charity to enhance the brand image.

    Civic marketing is about volunteering to serve the needs of the community (hence the term "civic"), and the brand benefits from the favorable publicity. It's very different from cause marketing because with civic marketing the brand does not align with a specific cause. Not only can the cause vary from one volunteer project to the next, in our experience we find that when there's more variety in the types of volunteer projects, it actually helps broaden the appeal. Also, traditionally cause marketing has almost always been about fund-raising. Civic marketing isn't about money at all. It's about service.

    In a Nov 4th, 2010 USA Today article, Carol Cone, managing director of brand & corporate citizenship at Edelman, was quoted as saying that “Cause Marketing, as we know it, is dead.” I think she’s right. Cause marketing has to change or it will die.

    A Nov. 10th New York Times article by Stuart Elliot provides an example of what cause marketing should be. Nike has championed the cause of helping to educate adolescent girls in poverty-plagued, developing regions of the world. If all cause marketing were done like this, the cause marketing industry wouldn’t be under such growing criticism.

    Here is a link to the N. Y. Times article:

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Nov 15, 2010 via blog

    Bill, you make a good point about P&G knowing exactly what it's getting into with the pink Swiffer campaign coupon program. And I do agree that cause marketing is an excellent image-building tool for companies. However, many have holistic cause programs with their nonprofit partners - including volunteer hours for either one cause or any cause of the employees' choosing. That ties in the service element.

    From the nonprofit perspective, there are many organizations out there that can't accommodate hordes of volunteers, but they sure can use the extra revenue a cause marketing program can generate. Although I like the concept of "civic marketing," I think there's plenty of room for a variety of programs - relating to fundraising or community service. In my experience, the nonprofit professionals I know will be happy that there are people who want to help them - in whichever method works best for both parties. Does it really have to be an "either/or" situation?

    Thanks again, Bill!

  • by Bill Ryan Mon Nov 15, 2010 via blog

    I agree that there's a lot of room for variety, and of course you're right - It shouldn't be an “either/or” situation. I also realize that Pepsi, Newman’s Own and Nike are not the only brands that are doing cause marketing right, but unless something is done about the over-commercialization and abuse by so many others, consumers are likely to turn on cause marketing brands in general.

    The misuse of cause marketing has been growing fast and, at some point, the abuse will become widely exposed. I don't think that the general population will appreciate all of the subtle differences between good cause marketing and some of the more deceptive cause marketing practices that violate the consumer’s trust. As marketers we may understand these differences, but if consumers don’t get it, the backlash is likely to spill over to all brands that participate in cause marketing, as well as to the charities that allow the exploitation of causes just to get the easy donations.

    I think the time has come to put a lot more emphasis on the ethics of cause marketing, and on the use of volunteerism by business as a way to genuinely demonstrate that those involved with the brand really care.

    Volunteering is a great way to create a positive image for the brand, while building loyalty, trust and credibility. My focus on civic marketing is to help educate marketers about how to use volunteer projects to benefit marketing, as well as public relations, sales and human resources.

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