Insight into cause marketing

Cause-related marketing has become an important part of the marketing mix, but not all causes elicit the desired responses from different sectors of the population. Mintel interviewed 1,500 people to find out their attitudes to different charities and cause-related marketing activities.

The type of charities held to be most appealing or worthwhile to those surveyed were those concerned with cancer (mentioned by six out of ten respondents). This significant level of response no doubt reflects the high profile of major charitable bodies, such as Imperial Cancer Research Fund and Cancer Research Campaign. These consistently rank within the top ten UK charities in terms of total income, according to data derived from Chartity Aid Foundation. Furthermore, given that the question used the term “worthwhile” as well as appeal, the response probably reflects the importance attached to the notion of finding a cure for cancer and its salience as a health issue.

Findings suggest that initiatives linked to cancer-related good causes would be likely to gain wide public approval, although those relating to children’s causes (54 per cent) emerged as a very strong second.

The second question went on to establish which of a range of charities were most appealing from a prompt list which covered the broad spectrum of charitable causes. It was felt that this would provide useful data for companies seeking to target specific groups effectively on cause-related marketing initiatives (see graph top right).

The data shows age is a key discriminator in the perception of specific charity sectors as appealing or worthwhile. The implication is that marketers need to exercise caution when choosing a charity link. Surprisingly, the 15-to-19 age group is much less likely to identify with children’s charities relative to the sample as a whole, but shows an exaggerated concern for the issues of homelessness and animal welfare. In Mintel’s view, these biases could be more fully exploited in terms of cause-related marketing link-ups on products targeted at young people.

Older age groups, however, had a much keener appreciation of religious charities, reflecting earlier findings on institutions held to be responsible for helping people with problems faced today. In addition, cancer-related charities held greater sway with those aged 55 and over, no doubt reflecting a much higher likelihood of being personally affected by the illness through the death of friends or other family members.

The survey went on to establish awareness levels of actual campaigns (see graph centre right).

In line with expectations, Tesco’s Computers for Schools shows a strong bias to family groups, whether better off or on a tight budget, and also scored highly among working managers whose “collecting power” would have been greater. The marked skew in awareness of the Andrex Guide Dogs for the Blind campaign among family groups perhaps indicates an element of pester power in that children may have encouraged discussion.

Next, the survey sought to establish actual levels of participation in specific cause-related marketing campaigns which have been running at some stage over the past few years. It was felt that this was particularly important in view of the fact cause-related marketing is a clearly emerging area of activity and it would be useful to establish benchmark data on characteristics of participants.

By far the majority of the sample had not taken part in any of the activity. Added to those who didn’t know whether they had or had not the proportion was 60 per cent.

Involvement in the Tesco computer initiative would, of course, be inflated by the longevity of the campaign. Participation in the campaign shows a marked regional bias to Tesco’s heartland in the South, London and South-west, reflecting remaining regional weaknesses in Tesco’s retail distribution profile.

The AB bias in participation is likely to reflect the fact that such initiatives generally attract more affluent groups to participate because the higher the spend, the greater the rewards. Perhaps in this respect Tesco could do more to motivate participation among the lower socio-economic groups, drawing on the principle of its strapline “every little helps”.

High levels of response were maintained across socio-economic groupings, demographic groupings, lifestage groupings and Mintel’s Special Groups, indicating that a cause-related strategy has widespread appeal across wide social strata, a positive benefit for packaged goods products.

The survey went on to explore the propensity of campaigns to encourage a process of switching brands among consumers (see graph bottom right).

The next stage of the survey explored the general claimed level of propensity to buy a product which supported a good cause.

More than three quarters of the sample said they would definitely, or probably, buy a product that supported a good cause. In Mintel’s view it is very important to note the marked skew to the probability of taking part and that, in practice, actual levels of participation would be likely to be much lower. This is because of respondents’ tendency to feel they almost ought to get involved to support a good cause, which will exaggerate the positive response.

This position was common across all age groups, but young adults and those between 55 and 64 were most likely to buy such a product. Over 65s were the least likely to (although even in this age range, two-thirds of them said they would).

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