Eighty-three percent of U.S. consumers want more of the products, services and retailers they use to benefit causes, according to the new 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study. The report also finds that 41 percent of consumers have purchased a product in the past year because it was associated with a social or environmental cause (41 percent), a two-fold increase since Cone first began benchmarking cause marketing in 1993.
U.S. consumers also expect businesses to continue meeting their social responsibility even during a downturn. Eighty-one percent said companies should financially support causes at the same level or higher during an economic downturn. The study indicates that businesses did meet the challenge with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers believing that companies responded well to social and environmental issues during the recession.
Cause marketing also continues to influence U.S. consumers’ buying decisions, according to the study. Eighty-eight percent say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing, 85 percent have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about, and 80 percent are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause.
They are also willing to switch product brands to support a cause: 61 percent of Americans say they would be willing to try a new brand or one unfamiliar to them, and 46 percent would try a generic or private-label brand. The study also finds that nearly one-in-five consumers (19 percent) would be willing to purchase a more expensive brand.
“Cause branding is a prime opportunity for companies to extend beyond their traditional market and increase exposure to potential new consumers,” says Alison DaSilva, executive vice president at Cone.
The study also finds that moms and millennials (18-24 years old) are the most cause-conscious consumers. Here are the numbers: Ninety-five percent of mothers find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88 percent average), and 92 percent want to buy a product supporting a cause (vs. 81 percent average). They are also more likely to switch brands (93 percent vs. 80 percent average), and have purchased more cause-related products in the past year than any other demographic (61 percent vs. 41 percent average).
Ninety-four percent of millennials surveyed find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88 percent average) and more than half (53 percent) have bought a product benefiting a cause this year (vs. 41 percent average).
A company’s support of social or environmental issues is also likely to influence this group’s decisions outside the store, including where to work (87 percent vs. 69 percent average) and where to invest (79 percent vs. 59 percent average), according to the study.
U.S. consumers also continue to want companies to prioritize support of issues in local communities (46 percent) and in the U.S. (37 percent), says Cone, although they(17 percent) are recognizing the need for companies to address issues globally.
The leading causes consumers want companies to support include:
–Economic development: 77 percent
–Health and disease: 77 percent
–Hunger: 76 percent
–Education: 75 percent
–Access to clean water: 74 percent
–Disaster relief: 73 percent
–Environment: 73 percent