Canadian consumers embrace cause marketing

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on October 25, 2010

Canadian consumers embrace cause marketing

More than three quarters (78%) of Canadian consumers feel that companies that support social causes have every right to make a big deal of it their advertising and marketing, and 77% feel that if a company supports a cause, the company should include that information in their marketing, according to a study by LoyaltyOne and the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA).

The survey found that "hot button" topics tend to dominate consumers' interest when it comes to choosing the most important social issues on their minds.

For example, healthcare, children's issues and education were rated "very important" by 50% of respondents. Surprisingly, given the rising consumer interest in green products and global warming, green issues were rated "very important" by only 46% of respondents.

"They may be known for modesty but, when it comes to businesses that support social causes, Canadians have no issue with some good old fashioned bragging," said Andrew Souvaliotis, chief impact officer of Air Miles for Social Change. "If companies need any further incentive to act responsibly, this research demonstrates that their customers not only want to know about their efforts but that it could be very good for business."

When it comes to supporting causes they care about, the study found that Canadian consumers put their money where their mouth is. Some two thirds of respondents (67%) reported making a monetary donation to a cause. Nearly as many (63%) reported making non-monetary donations and more than half (55%) said that they buy and/or sell products to support the charities they consider most important.

Perhaps the most surprising finding was that nearly two thirds of respondents (59%) said they were willing to pay more for products to support a good cause. And, of those who were willing to pay more, 18% said they were already paying a premium to support their favourite causes.

Respondents were overwhelmingly supportive of companies that align themselves with a cause and those that promote their relationships with that cause. For example:

  • Most respondents (84%) agreed that it is important for a company to officially support a cause. A similar percentage said that when a company communicates its support of a social issue, it improves the company's reputation.  
  • Three quarters also mentioned that they would like companies to make them aware of the social issue they are supporting, and half of respondents said they would like to be informed whenever possible of a company's efforts for a cause.  
  • Despite the buzz they generate, however, celebrities were found to be the least influential in drawing consumer attention to a company's social cause, with only 4% ranking them a "very strong influence". Family and friends, news reports, and information from charities themselves were the top three influencers.

"All things being equal, many consumers would rather do business with a company that stands for something beyond profits," concluded John Gustavson, president and CEO for the CMA. "Consumers are looking for more meaningful brand experiences and are voting with their wallets for ethical companies and quality brands that also reflect their social and environmental values."

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