By: Sean Daken, CEO
Over the past year, the marketing world has been abuzz with talk of gamification. What’s gamification you ask? It’s the integration of gaming elements or gaming mechanics into marketing campaigns.
Companies across many industries have increasingly tapped consumers’ reasons for enjoying games – the rush of a challenge, the thrill of figuring something out, the pride in beating opponents – to create fun and engaging experiences for their customers. In other words, companies are using (or trying to use) gamification as a customer engagement tool.
At the same time, another phenomenon has also been gaining traction among marketers: linking campaigns for products and services with support for social causes, which I saw very recently referred to as causeification. It’s more commonly referred to as cause marketing.
It’s everywhere today, being used by companies large and small. According to a recent MediaPost article, 80% of Fortune 250 companies have branded cause marketing programs, while researchers expect cause sponsorship, a form of cause marketing, to reach $1.7 billion this year.
Why are companies investing so heavily in cause marketing? Because supporting causes matters to their customers.
Research firm eMarketer reported that “a growing number of consumers considered ‘social purpose’ the leading purchase driver when quality and price were equal.” And 76% of American Internet users approve of brands doing well while doing good, a 33% increase since 2008.
Cause Marketing: Driving Customer Engagement – When Done Right
Here’s an example of great cause marketing: since 2006 Pampers, the popular Procter & Gamble diaper brand, has teamed with UNICEF to provide tetanus vaccines to babies. For each pack of diapers purchased, Pampers donates one tetanus vaccine to UNICEF’s Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Program.
So far, Pampers has donated 300 million vaccines. That’s a lot of diapers sold – and a lot of babies and mothers helped. Not only that, a campaign focused on babies’ needs makes perfect sense for this brand.
However, as cause marketing grows more ubiquitous, some companies are rolling out “bandwagon” efforts that don’t really do that much to support causes. The MediaPost article I mentioned earlier cites an example of an unnamed grocery chain that boasts of its commitment to consumer health – by saying it sells lots of apples. The processed junk food it also sells goes unmentioned.
Phenomena such as pinkwashing (selling pink breast-cancer themed products that do little for the breast cancer cause) and greenwashing (deceptive marketing of products to make them seem more environmentally-friendly than they are) tend to make consumers suspicious of cause marketing campaigns as a whole, because of their lack of transparency.
Increasingly savvy and skeptical consumers are tired of it. For example, a 2012 survey found that 93% of consumers say they’ve switched to energy-saving behavior at home but are less willing to pay more for “green” products than they were in 2008.
That’s why KULA makes it a snap for consumers to make up their own minds about which causes to support, by connecting them to our database of over 2 million vetted nonprofits.
This also makes it very clear that cause marketers must ensure their campaigns are providing a genuine social benefit. They also need to clearly communicate to their customers exactly how their purchases are benefiting causes.
Bad cause marketing hurts both causes and the companies who invest in those campaigns. When done right, however, cause marketing can build huge customer goodwill as well as long-lasting engagement and loyalty.
And that’s something we strive for every day at Kula, whether you’re one of our business customers or a cause-conscious consumer who understands that no matter how many points, miles or dollars you have to donate through our online giving platform, you are making a difference individually and collectively to over 2 million causes and the communities they serve in every corner of the globe!