Why You Need to Know the Causes Your Customers Care About

By: Mark Dority, Director of Marketing

Would you like to donate a dollar to help children who are suffering from cancer?” asked the cashier at my local grocery store.

Upon hearing that question, I had a vision of a small, young child lying in a hospital bed, thin, pale and balding from chemotherapy – but still flashing a gap-toothed grin. A close friend of the family has a child that is fighting the disease. It’s a cause that is dear to my heart so I tell the cashier to ring up the donation along with my grocery purchases.

Now had the cashier solicited the contribution simply by mentioning the name of the cause, it’s quite possible that I would not been moved and declined to donate. But the cashier touched my emotions by getting to the heart of the matter: innocent children are going through the pain of cancer. Would you like to play a part, even a small one, in helping to ease that pain?

Aside from the fact that no one wants to get judgmental looks from fellow shoppers waiting in line, emotional appeals to shoppers in the checkout lane are very effective. So effective, in fact, that America’s top 63 brick-and-mortar and online checkout charity programs – including EBay’s, Wal-Mart’s and McDonald’s – raised $358.4 million last year.

Emotional Connections Lead Consumers to Open Their Wallets

According to research, 69% of those who give, both to checkout programs and to charitable initiatives in general, do so because they feel a personal or emotional connection. That’s why it’s a smart strategy for companies to know what customers care about and engage them through those cause affinities.

As if we needed further proof that consumers today are more cause-conscious than ever, the recently-released 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study shows nine of 10 consumers would boycott companies they see as socially irresponsible. Nearly 62% of them use social media to engage with favorite brands’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and 87% say CSR influences their shopping decisions.

Clearly, knowing what moves customers matters, even to the world’s largest corporations like Disney which has promised to switch to sustainable paper products because it knows that environmental causes are among the most widely supported by people of all ages.

The idea that companies can better connect with their loyal customers through relevant causes, earning their goodwill and repeat business, was the guiding principle behind Kula’s founding. And it’s the feeling that drives Cause-Related Loyalty Marketing™ (CLM). When companies help their customers to help others by channeling unredeemed rewards into donations to the causes that touch those customers’ hearts – just like the grocery store touched mine – they can earn goodwill and loyalty in return.

With so much information about our world’s challenges constantly at consumers’ fingertips, cause-consciousness is only going to grow.  Knowing what causes your customers care about and communicating your support for those causes – as well as making it easy for customers to give – gives brands the power to build powerful, self-reinforcing loyalty relationships that stand the test of time.