Could aligning your company with a social issue mean an increase in your bottom line? Could this strategy represent a new marketing opportunity for your company?
Research has shown that Americans 18 to 25 years of age are significantly more likely to consider a company’s citizenship practices when making purchasing, employment and investment decisions than those older than 25. For years, marketers have focused on social responsibility and corporate citizenship in hopes that causal alignment will position them righteously in the minds of identified target audiences for short-term gain.
Proponents of corporate responsibility programs say that when corporations act in ways that benefit constituents outside the purview of their own clients, social responsibility can pay off. Adversaries say such programs can be a diversion from corporate goals and can backfire if campaigns are not backed by change.
Consider the latest: the “green” bandwagon. Has green advertising made a difference in the bottom line for the likes of Walt Disney Co., Anheuser-Busch or Wal-Mart, who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaigns to promote their green initiatives?
The answer may very well be “yes” when it comes to the young adult target audience.
Carol Cone, president of Cone Inc., a Boston-based strategic marketing firm, said, “Today’s young adults have learned to become savvy consumers and have recognized the importance of a company standing for something they believe in. Our research shows that cause-related activities will influence not only their buying habits but also gain their loyalty and trust.
“Aligning with a cause is a significant strategy for companies to attract consumers and a future work force at an early age and gain a long-term sustainable competitive advantage.”
According to a Cone Corporate Citizenship study first released in 2004, eight out of 10 Americans say corporate support of causes wins their trust in that company. The study said that, today more than ever, companies must get involved in social issues in order to protect and enhance their reputations.
Many North American corporations are optimistic that going green will make some green for them. Hybrid this. Recycle that. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a trademark study by the Philadelphia law firm Dechert, which stated that last year more than 2,400 applications were filed for phrases and/or logos that used “green” in them. In fact, eco-friendly corporate campaigns and slogans are ubiquitous, with some advertising executives surmising that green campaigns are standard operating procedure — practically mandatory in many industries. Locally, companies such as Owens- Illinois also have focused portions of their charitable giving guidelines on the environment.
Does green advertising pay off? Thousands of North American companies are banking on it.
Kristine Hoffman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.