Cutting Through Cause Clutter with Incentives

Does your cause offer consumer incentives - like a coupon?

We’ve witnessed the mainstreaming of products and services that support causes in recent years for two reasons: consumers get feelings of goodwill for supporting a good cause, and companies see it as a proven strategy to attract more customers. The influx of cause players has left some customers drowning in pink – and some companies are willing to play hard ball to rise above the clutter. More companies today not only support a cause, but include an added incentive for shoppers to choose their “cause goods” over the rest.

Just check out the Cause Marketing Forum’s Cause Update feed, and you’ll notice many new campaigns in the marketplace include some sort of benefit for consumers to take part.

  • Macy’s 9th annual campaign with Go Red for Women not only offers a line of dresses where 10% of the purchase price is donated to the American Heart Association, the retailer also offers a 10% or 20% discount to shoppers wearing red.

We know that when price and quality are equal, consumers will choose a product or service that is aligned with a good cause over one that is not. Clearly, Americans love shopping for cause products because they get the added benefit of feeling good about supporting a nonprofit. But when competition is tough, those warm and fuzzy feelings alone may not motivate consumers to choose one cause over the other.

There’s something about a concrete incentive that motivates consumers to take action, even when there isn’t cause competition. Consider Newman’s Own – a clear cause leader in its category – which decided to incentivize consumers to volunteer by offering a coupon for its products when consumers register for a project on its site. The company used a traditional marketing incentive – a coupon – to get consumers involved in a high-engagement cause activity.

Such incentives raise the bar for all companies making a commitment to causes – it’s no longer just about transactional donations, it’s about putting additional brand assets on the line to encourage participation. What are your thoughts about incentivizing consumers to do good? Share your thoughts below!

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