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Cause Marketing Creates Consumer Loyalty

Ford announced yesterday, that it’s teaming up with Web radio station Pandora for a new cause marketing campaign involving Jewel and John Legend. The program surrounds Ford’s new Sync system that allows you to stream audio from a mobile device through the car’s speakers. When consumers visit Pandora they’ll be asked to share songs from either of the two artists and for each song shared, Ford and Pandora will make a donation to charity.

According to a survey by Cone LLC, as reported on by Adweek, this move will help endear Ford to car buying consumers. 41% of the people surveyed this past July said that they’ve purchased a product or service because it was associated with a cause. 85% went so far as to say “When a product or company supports a cause I care about, I have a more positive image of the product or company.” More than half the people said a donation to a cause would make them willing to “try a new brand or one they’ve never heard of.” That’s a huge kick to brand loyalty.

But where cause marketing used to be a nice thing companies did now and then, it’s becoming more and more expected, even in this tough economy. 31% of the people surveyed said it was even more important for companies to support a cause while doing business. Those surveyed also made it clear that the full amount of the donation should be part of the cost of doing that business, not something that is passed on to consumers.

When it comes to choosing a charity, 46% of those surveyed wanted companies to focus their energy on local efforts, then national efforts before going abroad. Economic development, hunger, education, disaster relief, homelessness and the environment all ranked high on the list of causes consumers wanted to see addressed.

Though all efforts were appreciated, more than half the respondents said they prefer a company to make a “long-term commitment on its own to a focused issue it will support over time.” Programs such as Box Tops for Education, McDonalds and Ronald McDonald House Charities and Yoplait SaveLids to Save Lives all fall into this category.

Overall, consumers thought that companies were doing a good job at sharing the wealth with those in need. Alison DaSilva of Cone says;

“We know that even as some companies were in a tailspin, other leaders quickly stepped up to address societal and environmental needs as they unfolded, namely hunger, poverty and disaster response. . . . And certainly, the number of cause-marketing promotions and communications exploded. It was a time that allowed companies to show their true colors, and consumers were paying attention.”

For a more detailed look at the report by Cone, read the article from Adweek.

Has cause marketing influenced your decisions to purchase a product? Do you use cause marketing in your business? Tell us about it in the comments below.