Reflections at the end of one year...resolutions at the beginning of the next...
People are generally more open to giving during the holidays, while they're in the spirit of the season. However, according to the 2012 Cone Communications Holiday Trend Tracker, just 16 percent of consumers plan to purchase, or have already purchased, cause-related gifts this year (a significant drop from 49 percent in 2010). Does this mean cause marketing is waning, and that we might have seen the last pink package back in October, for Breast Cancer Awareness month? Not so.
A substantial 41 percent are undecided as to whether or not they'll participate in holiday cause marketing, says the same Cone study, which means brands still have an opportunity to appeal to the hearts and wallets of consumers—not just during the holidays, but any time of the year.
"Consumers are taking action—online, offline and with their pocketbooks—to boost consumption to cause-support," writes Mandy Levenberg, vp, consumer strategist at CEB Iconoculture, a leading global consumer research and advisory company. "Pioneering businesses have proven that capitalism and consciousness can coexist."
They can thrive, too. A symbiotic relationship between for- and non-profit organizations does both parties good—and consumers also like to get in on those warm fuzzies. Sure, there's some skepticism; nearly half of U.S. consumers participating in CEB Iconoculture's Values and Lifestyle Survey (September 2011) agree that companies support a cause for less than altruistic reasons: to help sell more products rather than to benefit the greater good.
Regardless, brands that support a worthy cause get an extra check in the "nice" column. When all else is the same, that mark can still tip the "buy" balance in their favor.
In fact, 75 percent of respondents to the Cone study say they wish companies would tell them more about the details and impacts of their products that support a cause. What better place than on the package at the point of purchase, where the final decision is made?
"Consumers expect holiday cause marketing, but wrapping a cause bow around an item is no longer enough. Before they make their purchases, shoppers are challenging companies to articulate the impacts of cause promotions," says Craig Bida, Cone Communications' evp of social impact. "Consumers seek a dual benefit from their holiday cause gifts: they want to feel good about themselves and feel confident their purchases are making a meaningful difference."
Wear your heart on your sleeve label. Do good, and have good done unto you.
Not sure how to get started or what you should be doing differently? Let Packaging Digest's parent company, UBM, help you move from passive giving to active participation with ideas from our new non-money-making event, Business4Better (www.business4better.org), scheduled May 1-2, 2013, in Anaheim, CA. This Conference+Exhibition+Web Community is designed to "inspire businesses, connect them with like-minded non-profits and create the kind of mutually beneficial partnerships that are redefining corporate responsibility as we know it."