By Andrew Southwood
On the 24th of November, The Produce News online edition ran an article entitled Cause Marketing …doing well by doing good. The main idea behind this is that an increasing number of shoppers are wanting the brands they purchase to stand for something they care about. As the Havas Media 2017 Meaningful Brands Report points out, a staggering 74% of brands are considered irrelevant in the lives of most people. They simply do not care if they continue to exist or not!!
This search for brands with purpose or meaning is set to increase as Millennials continue to enter the workforce at the rate of 4 million new job seekers a year with disposable incomes set to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2020. The Produce News article ‘How will Millennials’ impact produce sales?’ (Published April 2014) highlights key millennial values like transparency, authenticity, collaboration and being valued as individuals which is what they look for in the brands they purchase and value.
Millennials make up 25% of the US population, so those brands that ignore this trend will become irrelevant and the businesses supplying them will simply disappear over time.
So where does cause marketing fit into this new reality?
Modern brands need to stand out and be relevant
For the latter part of the 20th century, strong brands were characterized by their brand personality or brand essence. This personality was communicated to the public through various forms of advertising and public relations initiatives to develop strong recognition and likeability but was in large part never linked to public causes. That was mostly done through corporate social responsibility programs where these existed.
With the arrival of the Fair-Trade movement and new business models such as TOM’s Shoes, shoppers have been exposed to the idea that a brand can provide more than functional and emotional benefits. By way of example, they have seen that the standard of living of banana farmers in poor countries can be raised and that those who cannot afford a pair of shoes in a developing country can be blessed by our shopping choices. Shoppers now realize that each buying decision has the power to make a positive difference in the world and that the brands they support need to be agents of positive change.