Wed, April 17 2013

Consumers like companies with a cause - but do they trust them?

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Cause-related marketing •

A new study conducted by Good.Must.Grow has found consumers are apt to like and buy products from socially responsible companies - but they also question the claims of corporations who say they are committed to the greater good.

In the poll of 1,015 Americans, nearly a third of respondents claimed to have sought out socially responsible companies and a quarter said they avoided buying products from a company specifically because it wasn’t socially responsible. A majority (60%) of the study participants said buying goods from socially responsible companies was important to them, though a good deal tended to trump that consideration.

That’s good news for those of us pitching cause partnerships to companies. But it’s important to bear in mind another finding: Consumers are skeptical too, and 63% only sometimes trust a company’s claims that it is socially responsible.

It’s important for nonprofits and companies to build trust with the right partnerships.  Here’s my advice:

1. Find the fit. Consumers are more likely to believe and embrace a company’s cause-related efforts if they’re reasonably aligned with their brand. For example, an athletic footwear brand is a better fit for anti-obesity sports programs than a fast food company.  Seek out companies with values aligned with your nonprofit.

2. Show the money. Make sure your corporate partner practices complete and total transparency about the cause-related efforts. How many dollars went where, to what end? Help consumers see the resulting impact on real world problems.

3. Walk the talk. Choose a company that shows it’s a good corporate citizen in how it treats its employees, customers, suppliers, etc. Cause-related efforts that are strictly advertising ploys will spark skepticism. Consumers can smell crass corporate self-interest a mile away.

The bottom line?  Find the right partner so consumers will embrace the partnership.

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