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Why cause commerce is good for brands

Why cause commerce is good for brands Becca Bleznak

With so many brands and retailers in the current marketplace, how does a consumer choose where to shop? For many, there's one vital component -- they shop to support causes they believe in. Amy Deneson, marketing communications manager at GLSEN, spoke at the iMedia Commerce Summit in Nashville, Tennessee about how her nonprofit is working with brands to create a mutually beneficial experience for all.

Does showing that you care really pay? Deneson says that, according to Nielsen, "over 55 percent of global respondents say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact." Impactful brands such as Toms, ADIDAS, and Ben and Jerry's have seen an increase in annual sale in recent years due to their cause marketing efforts.

Deneson continues, "Consumers share recommendations when they find something they care about." What does this mean for ecommerce? It's time to figure out how to marry causes, brands, and commerce -- to strive to "infuse and enthuse" the masses. 

Also important to note? 51 percent of these shoppers are Millennials. Along with mothers, Millennials care a great deal about the values of the brands they buy from, and are always looking for new opportunities to support a cause. And, if you're looking to hire these Millennials (as you probably are), 6 out of 10 of them say that it's very important to them that the companies they work for are supporting causes that they care about. 

GLSEN, which is a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring a safe educational environment for all students (specifically those in the LGBT community), spreads its message in two ways: First, with an ecommerce platform, featuring #GLSENproud apparel and mission-wear. Additionally, it creates partnership marketing opportunities in digital, print -- even in Times Square.

One such partner spoke as well. Nicole Frasor, social media marketing manager at Teleflora, explained how her brand supports not one, but three causes, one of which is GLSEN. After creating Valentine's Day promotional campaign #WhatisLove, Teleflora saw a correlation between its all-inclusive message, and that of GLSEN. This campaign both prompted cultural conversation, and positioned Teleflora as a forward-thinking company.

So how does a brand go about creating such opportunities? Frasor says that the keys to successful campaign are:

Authenticity

The non-profit you support and their cause must align with your company mission and values, as well as appeal to your key demographic. And there must be an emotional investment within your company as well -- in other words, your employees need to care about this cause, too.

Transparency

It should go without saying, but you need to be 100 percent honest with your consumers. Be specific about where their dollars go, and how they help make a difference. For example, Frasor explains that when supporting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, 91 cents of every dollar from that purchase goes directly to BCRF.

Opportunity

Finally, you need to utilize stakeholders and employees. Talk to the people you work with, and find out what causes they support. And don't forget your social audience: Remember the impact of the ALS ice bucket challenge last year? It raised over $150 million for Lou Gehrig's disease.

Cause marketing works: 97 percent of marketing executives consider it to be a vital brand strategy. And 90 percent of consumers say that they would switch to your brand in order to support a cause they care about. Yes, it is about profitability, but it's also about social change. Cause commerce can be a win-win strategy, if executed correctly. 

Becca is currently an editor at iMedia Connection, as well as a freelance entertainment writer for ScreenPicks.com and The Televixen. In the past, she has worked as a social media/community manager at SEO Savvy, Empower Digital, and Mahalo. ...

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