MADISON, Wis (12/16/10)--Cause marketing is a term that may be new to some in the credit union industry, but the concept is one that credit unions know all about—and one that suits them perfectly. During a recently held webinar on cause marketing co-hosted by Credit Unions for Kids and CO-OP Financial Services, Tom Woerner, president and founder of the marketing firm Vergrandis, New York, defined cause marketing as “a long-term commitment that links the brand with a social issue in mind of the consumer while raising awareness and funds for a worthwhile cause.” Examples of mainstream cause marketing are the yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets that support the Lance Armstrong Foundation. That effort was led by Nike. Yoplait’s Save Lids for Lives, where the yogurt maker donates 10 cents to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every pink lid customers send in, is another example. In the credit union industry, perhaps the best-known cause marketing initiative is Credit Unions for Kids, which is affiliated with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in raising funds for 170 children’s hospitals. Why is cause marketing so relevant today? Marketing has changed, Woerner explained. Consumers have more options than ever in the products they choose, and they have a voice though social media. “Marketers realize that their communication strategy has evolved into more an ongoing conversation with the consumer as opposed to a series of one-way bursts,” Woerner said. “Marketing is a social activity.” And just as people must understand the needs of others to develop relationships, organizations must contribute to the needs of society to be relevant to today’s consumers. As proof, Woerner offered data from the recent Cone Cause Consumer Behavior Research Study:
* 85% of Americans say they have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about; * 85% say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause in their marketing (compared with 66% in 1993); *79% say they would be likely to switch from one brand to another, when price and quality are about equal, if the other brand is associated with a good cause. That compares with 66% in 1993; and * 64% recommended a brand that supported a cause to a friend.
Woerner said credit unions are a natural fit for cause marketing because it’s a natural fit for their core value proposition of people helping people. “You might say it’s in your DNA,” he said. (Editor’s note: This part one of a series of articles News Now
is featuring on credit unions and cause marketing. See related story “CU4Kids, CMN Hospitals logos to change Jan. 1” in the News Now