Consumers are much more likely to buy products from companies that support social causes -- and nonprofit organizations -- than from companies that don’t. This is the key finding of a new study conducted by Duke University and cause marketing agency Cone, Inc. The study analyzed the effects of advertisements for toothpaste and shampoo brands on 182 consumers – some of whom viewed generic ads, while the rest of the consumers viewed “cause marketing” ads emphasizing the company’s partnership with a nonprofit organization to advance a particular social cause.
The consumers strongly preferred the brands affiliated with the causes, producing 28 percent higher sales for the “do gooder” toothpaste and a whopping 74 percent higher sales for the “do gooder” shampoo. The study also found that the specific nonprofit cited in the advertisements was an important factor in purchasing decisions, as was the particular product itself.
Cone and Duke then took the study online, and found that people spend about twice as much time looking at cause-based ads than they do looking at ordinary ads. In addition, sales for the cause-affiliated products were 19 percent higher.
However, some products showed little or no increase in both studies. Those were potato chips and light bulbs, in particular. In analyzing why sales went up for some products and not for others, Cone discovered that consumers want to feel connected somehow to the cause.
The most popular causes relate to the problems that Americans face everyday. Education and economic development headed the list of causes that resonated most with Americans.
A summary of the study can be found here.