How cause-marketing captivates consumers and makes a difference
Consumers demand brands with beating hearts. Gone are the days of slogans that overpromise and fleeting trends; 2024’s audience expects authenticity, purpose and a genuine commitment to making a positive impact. This is where the tide of cause-marketing surges, merging brand narratives with social good to create waves of impact that resonate on a global scale (and positively affect the bottomline, too). Doing good is good for business.
The rise of consumer activists
Empowered by information and a burning desire for change, Gen Z and other conscious consumers are leading a global charge. They're not just buying products; they're choosing brands that align with their values and which actively strive to solve societal issues. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that 63% of global consumers seek brands that actively address social issues, proving "buying on belief" is not just a trend, but a new standard. And this is not only important for corporates – it’s essential for professional associations looking to attract new, younger members, and for non-profits too.
The business boom of purposeful brands
As mentioned in the introduction, cause-marketing isn't just a feel-good movement – it's a smart business decision – for corporates, professional societies and associations, and for institutions. A Cone Communications study found that 87% of respondents will purchase a product because a company stood behind an issue they cared about, and 87% would also choose a product with a social or environmental benefit given the chance. Studies like Deloitte's 2021 Global Marketing Trend Report further solidify this, highlighting that in times of uncertainty, consumers gravitate towards brands that respond positively with action, leading to increased loyalty and trust.
Crafting authentic cause partnerships
Cause-marketing done properly rests on forging deep, long-term partnerships that seamlessly blend your brand's purpose with a genuine desire to make a difference. Here's how to navigate this transformative journey:
1. Find a cause that resonates
Choose a cause that authentically connects with your brand's core values, employee passions and customer/members’ aspirations. Remember, shared values fuel successful partnerships.
Case study: If you think about it, ethics are at the root of most causes. The Argentine Association of Ethics and Compliance (AAEC) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation. The VIII International Compliance Congress in November 2023 aimed to encourage professional exchange and, in this way, become a vehicle that contributed to achieving a culture of integrity, ethics and transparency in all areas. When they set MCI Argentina the challenge of achieving engagement, the team proposed a disruptive strategy: “Compliance from another planet” hosted at the Galileo Galilei Planetarium. Using the journey to the mythical Planet of Buenos Aires as the theme, a dynamic agenda was set with TedX-type emotion-driven talks not exceeding 12 minutes in length and immersive experiences including high-impact 360˚ videos projected on the dome of the planetarium. More than 230 associates were present at the Congress. In parallel, via a virtual platform designed by MCI, over 800 people followed the event online and enjoyed material generated exclusively for the remote audience.
2. Embrace shared purpose
Integrate social good into your company's DNA, not just marketing campaigns. Engage stakeholders in defining your stance and commitment to the cause, ensuring genuine alignment from the inside out.
Case study: One of the world’s largest surfing and lifestyle brands, Quiksilver, has an active and ongoing interest in raising awareness about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. To raise awareness, they approached MCI UK to design, produce and install a sustainable brand activation. Our solution was a life-size, barrelling wave made from 7 cubic metres worth of recycled plastic bottles. The installation made its first appearance at Boardmasters Festival before travelling on to other high-profile events, all backed by social media cause-marketing. Social media reach exceeded 3 million with 134,638 social media interactions.
3. Seek impactful partners
Research charities with transparent operations, measurable impact initiatives, and global reach. Look for organisations tackling issues relevant to your audience and whose values match your own.
Case study: Holcim has a clear mission: to build a world that works for people and the planet. The Ocean Yacht Race, with its innovation and focus on sustainability was a perfect complement for the decarbonisation, recycle and reuse focus happening at the company. Working with Holcim, MCI Argentina designed a unique and exclusive experience for its clients that would, at the same time, transmit this commitment to sustainability and care for the environment. The “Holcim invites you to live The Ocean Race'' engagement initiative allowed each of the participants to monitor their carbon footprint via an app; clients received promotional materials and 100% sustainable corporate gifts, took part in community activations around water purification and got to meet the crew of Holcim’s Go Circular racing yacht. Through this initiative, the team managed to reduce environmental pollution measurements to a minimum in reference to all activities during the Brazilian leg of the race.
4. Craft immersive experiences
Go beyond traditional advertising. Create multi-sensory experiences that educate, engage, and emotionally connect your audience with the cause. Think pop-up events, virtual reality journeys, or interactive workshops that bring the issue to life.
Watch: Have a look at what is possible at your next immersive experience. Check out this clip by Vini Apoena of MCI Canada. His office's automated tool – Events for Change – is a unique, digital-native evaluation process to ensure events meet rigorous standards that are both environmentally and socially equitable.
5. Harness the power of storytelling
Let your brand's narrative intertwine with the cause's story. Share authentic voices, showcase real-life impact, and celebrate both successes and challenges together to build trust and inspire deeper engagement.
Discover: Video is a crucial part of story-telling. Read how MCI engages audiences with video, and the opportunity this medium gives our clients to show, as well as tell, their stories.
6. Leverage global reach
Utilise digital platforms and engagement professionals like MCI to connect with a global audience and amplify your partnership's impact. Consider cross-cultural collaborations, multilingual campaigns, and targeted influencer partnerships to resonate with diverse markets.
Watch: MCI helps brands, associations and institutions authentically partner and increase global engagement around causes. For example, MCI Netherlands has worked with the International Glaucoma Association for a number of years on the World Glaucoma Congress and promoting World Glaucoma Week.
Measure and amplify impact
Demonstrate the positive impact of your partnership, both for your brand and the cause. Track key metrics, share success stories, and transparently report on the tangible difference you're making. Cause-marketing is a journey, not a destination; continuous improvement and adaptation are key to long-term success.
Beyond profits, building a legacy
By aligning your brand's purpose with a global good, you gain the hearts and minds of consumers, cultivate trust, and create a lasting impact for both your business and the world.
Contact MCI today to find out how we can help you raise engagement through authentic, purpose-driven cause-marketing.