get conscious or get left behind

As society becomes more socially conscious, we’ve been using our power as consumers to demand businesses get involved too. Businesses are responding to the current generation’s preparedness to either reward or punish companies based on their socially-conscious positions, and it shows. Businesses were spending over $100 million on cause marketing in 1990, and this year the forecast is $ 1.5 billion, according to The Cause Marketing Forum, which offers workshops and a website offering resources to businesses and nonprofits interested in developing socially-conscious programs.

The Cause Marketing Forum’s recent HALO Awards combed through the many marketing campaigns incorporating social causes to award some of the truly effective ones. Target won best print ad, called “Gifts for the Greater Good,” in partnership with the Salvation Army and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Sears won best transactional campaign for working with Rebuilding Together for its “Heroes at Home” campaign. Best Environmental/ Wildlife Campaign went to Esurance and Live Earth, for their eco-conscious music events, where carbon-offset programs succeed in making carbon-neutral concerts.

A Cone Millenial Case Study describes the generation born between 1979-2002 as Millennials, and lists some interesting facts about how their social consciousness is effecting their consumer habits.

78% believe companies have the responsibility to make a difference.
83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible.
74% are more likely to pay attention to a company’s message when they see that the company has a deep commitment to a cause.
69% consider a company’s social/environmental commitment when deciding where to shop.
89% are likely or very likely to switch from one brand to another (price and quality being equal) if the second brand is associated with a good cause.

Based on this data, companies either have to get with the times, or perish. Mike Hess, specialist in director-global research and marketing strategy for Omnicom Group, NY, suspects cause programs may pay off considerably better than most ad campaigns. According to him, “the coefficient of cause marketing (i.e., the multiplier effect of the first year’s sales lift) may well be higher for cause marketing than your ordinary TV ad because consumers’ emotional connections in equating a cause with a brand may be stronger than the connections forged by other advertising.”

An interesting example is Haagen-Dazs’ campaign to aid the declining honeybee population, for instance. Ads ran from National Geographic to TV spots during 60 Minutes, to Newsweek, directing consumers to June 9th will reveal an ad in Newsweek printed on 100% recycled linen paper embedded with flower seeds that consumers can rip out of the magazine and plant, creating more flower food for bees.
These efforts pave the way for a positive response to the unveiling of their new VanillaHoneybee flavor in stores now. So far, the results have surpassed their goals, says a PR spokesperson for Haagan Daas.

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