Passion the key to cause marketing

May 18, 2012

Two surveys cite what consumers want and how they'll respond when retailers and CPG support special causes.

If it seems retailers and CPG manufacturers are cause marketing more, there are reasons why. Companies sense that coming out of the recession, many consumers are more sensitive to the needs of others. And if they raise prices because their commodity costs are higher, they still want end-users to feel that companies continue to do the right thing. They seek emotional connections to help achieve this.

This is a touchy issue for most American adults, shows the Supermarket Guru-National Grocers Association 2012 Consumer Survey Report. We asked if they’d be likelier to shop in a supermarket that supports causes—33.1% said no, 13.4% said yes, and 53.5% said it depends on the causes the store supports and whether prices appear to be inflated in order to deliver that support.

If, for example, private label sales determined a store’s donations, and those prices rose, 62.4% of consumers would buy the same amount of PL as usual; 25.3% would buy less, and 12.3% would buy more. And survey respondents were split on traveling further to a store that supports causes. While 54% said no, 46% said yes—up to a mile or two (24.3%), up to five miles (16.0%), and up to ten miles (5.8%).

A panel at the NGA Annual Convention moderated by SupermarketGuru CEO Phil Lempert agreed that success in cause marketing is likelier when a consistent focus applies. The more a retailer spreads resources across varied causes, the more it dilutes the message to shoppers. And the more passion a store’s leader shows for a specific cause, the greater the success potential.

Who are today’s global, socially conscious consumers? And how can companies best satisfy them? Nielsen posed these questions in its international study of 28,000 online respondents from 56 nations.

They found many people put their energies and monies where their sentiments are. Two-thirds (66%) say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that give back to society; 62% prefer to work for these companies, and 59% prefer to invest in them. Notably for retailers and CPG, 46% say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies; it is this group that Nielsen defines as “socially conscious consumers.

”Nearly two-thirds of this “socially conscious” group (63%) are younger than 40. Their willingness to pay extra exceeds that of older consumers, by a 51% to 37% margin. Precisely two-thirds of them (66%) said companies should work to “ensure environmental sustainability,” according to Nielsen, which gave them 18 choices from the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and other prominent social-responsibility topics. That was the cause most frequently cited. Rounding out the top ten are:

•    Improve science, technology, engineering and math training and education (56%)

•    Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (53%)

•    Provide relief following natural disasters (52%)

•    Support small business and entrepreneurship (50%)

•    Increase access to technology (50%)

•    Increase access to clean water (48%)

•    Achieve universal primary education (46%)

•    Promote gender equality and empower women (45%)

•    Protect animals (45%)