Corporate Eye

Cause Marketing in Ads Boosts Brand Sales for Some Categories

If you’re in the business of selling personal hygiene products, then you might want to look into tying a cause to your ads ASAP based on the results of a new report from Cone and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.  According to the press release, the unique study followed the purchase patterns of 182 consumers after viewing ads with and without cause marketing messages included in them.  Those consumers were then sent shopping in a convenience store mock-up created for the study and asked to purchase items from four categories: shampoo, toothpaste, chips and lightbulbs.

The results showed a big jump in sales for shampoo (up 74% when the ad was tied to a cause) and toothpaste (28% increase).  The study also found that consumers spent twice as much time viewing ads with cause-related messages in them than they did viewing non-cause ads.Additionally, 85% of consumers said that they feel better about a brand, company or product when it’s associated with a cause they care about.  That’s the key – choosing a cause that’s relevant to the largest segment of your customers.  The study also showed that 84% of consumers in the sample want to select their own cause with 83% saying that relevance is key. 

Clearly, the case for cause marketing has been made, but unless that cause is meaningful to consumers and relevant to the product or brand, it won’t do much good.  That’s the trick to successful cause marketing.  Just any cause won’t do. 

With that in mind, it’s important to talk to your customers and get an idea of what causes are important to them.  That type of information is critical to creating a complete demographic profile of your customer base.  There may come a time where it’s not just “cool” to be involved with a cause, but it might be a critical part of a company’s overall branding strategy as consumers look more and more at companies to give back to society and the world.  Starting to develop that strategy now doesn’t sound like a bad idea.  What do you think?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.