Cause and Effect: Supporting Brands that Support Social Causes

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Posted Apr 04, 2018

Movements such as #metoo and Times Up, as well as issues of gun control and climate change are on the minds of consumers. For many brands, social responsibility has become a differentiator in the marketplace. So much so that spurred by recent events, both Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods raised the minimum age for gun buyers to 21. Even brands like the New England Patriots --with the loan of the team jet to the fly the Parkland High School students to the March for Our Lives -- are openly supporting social causes. Do brand’s socially-responsible initiatives resonate with consumers? Are consumers taking their personal views on social causes into account when making purchase decisions? We surveyed 1,000 consumers to find out the answers to these questions and more.

Choosing a Brand, Just Cause

When we asked consumers if they cared about brands supporting social causes, 24% said “yes”, 31% said “somewhat”, 34% said “it depends on the cause”, with only 11% claiming it does not affect their decision making. 56% of consumers said they were “Extremely likely” or “likely” to support a brand based on its support of a social cause. The leading brand-supported social cause looked for by consumers was products produced with no animal testing, chosen by 60%. While “no animal testing” was the top response among both genders, females were more likely to purchase brands that supported this cause -- 66% of females vs. 48% of males.

Other important causes to consumers included:

  • Non-GMO, pesticide-free (45%)
  • Wages and treatment of workers (39%)
  • Organic ingredients (39%)
  • Environmental views (38%)
  • Sustainable agriculture (30%)
  • Racial equality (27%)
  • Veterans issues (26%)
  • Climate change (26%)
  • Gun control (20%)
  • Religious views (18%)
  • Political views (17%)
  • LGBTQ rights (15%)
  • Reproductive rights (15%)
  • Other (6%)

Do Your Research

We also found that consumers like to do their research before they make product decisions. Approximately 92% of consumers said they “research” or “somewhat research” products before making the decision to buy. Top four sources they turn to for this information are:

  1. General reviews (88%)
  2. Friends and family (62%)
  3. Company page and social pages (36%)
  4. News media (28%)

While researching products, consumers aren’t just looking to compare prices. Their research delves into information about the brands themselves, including social responsibility. How do consumers find out if a brand supports one of their causes of interest? Social media led the way with 31%, followed by the brand’s own ads (28%), news media (23%); and 17% saying they found out from the product packaging.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Approximately 45% of consumers said they have stopped supporting a brand based on that brand’s support of a social cause. 65% of those consumers said they have stopped supporting one to three brands. On the flip side, 51% of consumers said they have started supporting a brand based on that brand’s support of a social cause. With 57% saying they started supporting one to three brands.

The Takeaway

Do consumers believe that brands really care about social causes? Overwhelmingly, yes, yes they do. 27% of consumers felt a brand’s support of a cause was “genuine” and another 65% felt it was “somewhat genuine”. Only 8% said definitively that they felt brands to be “ungenuine”. Even when brands tout their good deeds in ad campaigns, e.g., Anheuser-Busch’s donation of over 150,000 cans of water for Hurricane Harvey relief, consumers still overwhelmingly feel that support is genuine. And most importantly, consumers’ support of social causes and of the brand’s who also believe in these causes is affecting purchase decisions. While price is still the number one motivator when choosing which brand to buy, brands’ support of social causes is very important to consumers. With more than 91% of consumers doing their research on brands before making a purchase, consumers are making their voices heard about which causes they will and won’t support. Find the full results of the survey below

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