By: Amy Bretherton
Each day this week we will dive into one of five trends that helped define cause marketing in 2018. These trends all made socially responsible efforts a winning proposition for companies, nonprofits, and the community. Let’s glance back at the trends that shaped the cause marketing landscape this year:
Trend 5: Traditional Cause Campaigns Still Going Strong
Despite the current retail apocalypse and cluttered cause landscape, traditional cause campaigns are still effective. The process doesn’t stop at sales or donations anymore, it’s about long-lasting relationships with consumers. Companies that participate in cause campaigns have experienced an increase in sales and media attention.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association announced that Jiffy Lube service centers raised more than $600,000 nationwide during its annual MUSCLE UP! Campaign. During the month of August, Jiffy Lube customers were invited to make a donation of $3 or more to MDA at participating locations in support of MDA programs and services, which includes helping send more than 250 kids to MDA summer camp. In return, donors receive a MUSCLE UP!® savings book containing more than $100 in savings from Jiffy Lube and other national retailers.
Big Lots announced the completion of the company’s sixth point-of-sale fundraising campaign benefitting Nationwide Children’s Hospital in October. The “Serve Families. Give Big” campaign included all 1,416 Big Lots stores and more than 35,000 Big Lots associates working to collect over $3.2 million dollars in customer donations. In addition to its financial commitments and support, Big Lots has partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to create the Butterfly Run. The goal of the family-fitness event is to end the stigma often associated with childhood mental illness, as well as raise funds for much needed child and adolescent behavioral health research.
As we continue our blog series: 2018 In Review – next we will take a look at popular cause campaigns that inspired us all. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog!
Trend 4: Continued Growth of #GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday keeps gaining in importance and impact with no end in sight. According to Classy, 140,887 donations were made in 2018, up from 100,210 donations in 2017. A total of $15,379,066 was raised this year greatly exceeding the $10.3M donated last year. What’s driving this phenomenal growth? For Momentum research shows that 53% of people surveyed want companies they purchase from to participate in #GivingTuesday. That number is even higher in Millennials and Gen Z with 61% expecting companies to participate in this day of worldwide giving.
Another trend is nonprofits leveraging partnerships and using creativity to create impactful #Giving Tuesday campaigns that cut through the clutter. Habitat for Humanity went all in on Giving Tuesday with the support of partners Lyft and Nissan, launching a multi-part campaign across social media. Habitat Humanitarians Drew and Jonathan Scott — of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” fame — gave their celebrity friends a “lift” and had backseat conversations about the meaning of home and why they support Habitat for Humanity. The videos were posted on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook throughout the day and featured celebrities Lance Bass, Aimee Garcia, Chris Hardwick, Sugar Ray Leonard, Caleb Marshall, LeAnn Rimes and J.B. Smoove. Viewers were asked to join the Scott Brothers and their friends in supporting Habitat for Humanity by visiting habitat.org/givingtuesday.
Trend 3: The Rise of Employee Engagement
Companies now prioritize employees as a key audience. Employee engagement has become an important strategy in hiring and retaining younger workers in today’s competitive job market. Cause marketing boosts morale and motivates employees. Skills-based volunteerism has become a leading strategy as companies engage employees in meaningful community work while honing their job skills.
Simply having a corporate volunteerism program isn’t enough anymore, programs need to be designed to promote leadership skills and enhance career trajectory. If younger workers don’t feel personally connected to a company and its values they are less likely to stay. More workers are bringing their passion to make a difference to work and are focusing on emotional satisfaction rather than just earning a paycheck.
Kabbage is an automated lending platform for small business that calls Atlanta home. Founded in 2009, it was recently named one of the eleven most valuable FinTech startups by Business Insider. Despite its fast growth, Kabbage has prioritized corporate volunteering and remains committed to providing at least one paid volunteer opportunity per month, typically during business hours. The company’s commitment to serving local communities is a top-level corporate goal integrated into their business plan. Philanthropy targets are set and tracked to determine whether annual company goals have been met. Ideas are solicited and employees are given an opportunity to tackle the issues in their communities that they are passionate about.
Taco Bell Foundation for Teens is a natural fit for the company since teens are both customers and employees. The Foundation invests in America’s youth, ages 16-24, and helps them pursue their educational goals and career aspirations through grants and scholarships focused on education and career readiness. Taco Bell Foundation recently announced it doubled its Live Más Scholarship commitment to $21 million by 2021.
Learn more about Employee Engagement from our Corporate Partner Decision-Maker Research infographic here.
Trend 2: Disaster Philanthropy
We can’t talk about recent trends without addressing natural disasters. In 1980, there were only three natural disasters with more than $1 billion in damage in the US. In 2017, there were 16 natural disasters that generated over $1 billion in impact. As a result, disaster philanthropy is gaining new importance within CSR programs as part of a larger well-planned strategy rather than a quick short-term reaction. With the rise in frequency and scale of natural disasters, companies are reviewing their policies in advance to ensure they award grants, distribute products and use volunteers wisely as they focus on helping their employees and communities affected by disasters.
Consumers and employees expect companies to actively participate in disaster recovery and to take the lead in product donations and volunteerism to help rebuild communities. Global brands that are on the frontlines of disaster philanthropy are viewed as local partners. Tide and Nissan are both examples of cause alliances that gained positive attention in 2018.
Proctor & Gamble’s Tide’s Loads of Hope mobile laundry unit was deployed to support relief and recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Residents brought clothes to be washed, dried and folded free of charge. P&G also distributed free personal care and cleaning kits. Tide Loads of Hope was first launched in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina.
Nissan’s purpose-driven truck campaign “Calling all Titans” featured a donation page asking consumers to join in to help people affected by Hurricane Florence. Nissan also hosted a Facebook Live with the American Red Cross to discuss how the public could assist now and in the days and weeks to come.
Trend 1: Brands Taking Stands
Each day this week we will dive into one of five trends that helped define cause marketing in 2018. Today, we look back on a trend that carried over from 2017, but had an even larger influence in the cause space this year. One of the top ways companies defined their brand purpose in order to connect with consumers and employees, was through standing up for a cause.
Spurred by the Parkland, FL shootings, we have seen more and more companies step up and take a stand, tying their brands to causes and social issues that can be political hot buttons. This trend is connected to the added emphasis on mission and brand purpose, as companies strategically blend business and brand by supporting causes customers and employees care about. While standing on the sidelines of a political issue may sound like the safest thing to do, consumers have made it increasingly clear this year that they expect brands to take a leadership role in supporting social issues. Failing to do so can negatively impact the bottom line.
Brands must demonstrate to consumers that they are authentic and passionate about the causes they support. As a result, companies are becoming more strategic about backing up statements with meaningful action. They are conducting research to learn what their ideal customer expects and crafting messages that align with their brand. True brand purpose creates a bond with customers that go beyond product and price.
Dick’s Sporting Goods made a big statement in 2018 when CEO Edward Stack announced that the retailer would no longer sell guns to customers under age 21 and no longer sell high-capacity magazines. In a striking example of corporate activism, Stack outlined specific measures for gun control reform. This year we saw companies go beyond stating what they will no longer be doing and weigh in on what needs to be done in order to help solve societal issues.
Nike created a stir with its recent commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick along with the tag line ”Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The sacrifice in question is a reference to Kaepernick’s kneeling protests against police brutality before NFL games. While there were initial calls for boycotts, many saw Nike’s ad as a shrewd business move. Nike’s core customers are under 35, part of an age group that wants the values of the brands they’re buying to align with their own, and they tend to side with Kaepernick.