Marketing Strategies:Merchants Embrace the Cause

2009 WAS A TOUGH YEAR FOR MANY TO BE CHARITABLE, but that didn’t stop several marketers from supporting causes. In fact, many merchants are incorporating cause marketing as a part of their overall promotion mix.

Doing good can be good for sales, as 56% of consumers believe a company or brand has earned their business because it has been doing its part to support good causes, according to a Goodpurpose Consumer Study released in October.

While consumers have decreased spending on charitable giving, another study, the PRWeek/Barkley PR Cause Survey, shows that 91% expect companies to fill that gap and showcase their commitment to the greater good — up from 86% in 2008.

General merchant J.C. Penney supported the Salvation Army’s existing Angel Giving Tree program by allowing its customers to shop online or in stores for Christmas gifts for children and seniors facing hardships. FedEx Ground partnered with J.C. Penney to offer free delivery of gifts purchased online.

Guitar Center held a food drive at all of its 214 stores to benefit local food banks; shoppers who donated an item received a 10% off coupon for their next Guitar Center purchase. Jockey, Lands’ End and Macy’s have also embarked on cause-marketing campaigns this fall.

David Hessekiel, founder/president of Cause Marketing Forum, an organization that helps companies get involved in charitable causes, says that cause marketing is becoming a more mainstream marketing practice across the board, “whether it’s discounters or high end merchants,” Hessekiel says.

“At this time, consumers are cash-strapped,” he says. “It breeds goodwill to the stores that are involved and makes the overall experience more fulfilling for the consumer.”

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