The Cause Marketing Challenge for Consumers

I always appreciate the creativity behind a well-executed marketing campaign — whether it be witty, humorous, artistic etc.

Cause marketing though, that’s a different story. The emerging trend of cause marketing seems to blossom everywhere in my day-to-day life (with that “feel-good” reward for my consumption choices).

With shifting expectations in consumerism, promoting a good purpose can become a gold mine for companies. In 2009, the Global Edelman goodpurpose Study revealed 83% of people are willing to change consumption habits if it can help make the world a better place to live. Cha ching.

So, for those 83% willing to make that change — where do you go? How do you know your consumption change is really making the world a better place?

I’m an optimist, but it’s going to take more than placing a cute fuzzy animal in a TV ad to make me believe you’re making an impact for wildlife.

Working with corporate philanthropy programs, I’ve become very familiar with corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. Companies, who choose to report, provide the public a sneak peak into their annual review of sustainability and social impact.

But who’s reading them? I’m not sure they are promoted as well to consumers as they are to those already in the industry.


If you’re one of those consumers who want to make responsible choices then challenge cause marketing campaigns with accountable reporting from the company. Making an impact takes more than listening to a 30 second commercial narrating a good purpose.

On the other hand, reporting standards for social responsibility is a current challenge for companies.The 2010 Cone Share Responsibility report revealed 67% of consumers are confused by messages companies use to talk about their social and environmental commitments.

CSR reports commonly communicate their performance in the community– yet,  lack communication about their goals and providing content that defines their achievements (much less reporting their impact through cause marketing initiatives).

As they say, it takes two to tango. And it’s going to take just that for companies and consumers to help make the world a better place to live.

Want to know what is being reported for community impact? Read patterns and key statistics from the Global Initiative Report Reporting on Community Impact! is a great resource I recommend for consumers, nonprofits, and companies.

– Amy Chait



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