BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : DECEMBER 18, 2000 ISSUE
SOCIAL ISSUES

ONLINE EXTRA: TABLE: Companies and Causes: The Latest View of "Cause Marketing"


Americans like the idea of companies getting involved in social causes, according to the latest research. But many remain skeptical whether firms are making good on their boasts about commitment to such issues.

In recent years, many companies donating to charities and nonprofits have adopted an approach known as "strategic philanthropy," in which they try to use their contributions to advance corporate goals. An offshoot of this approach has been a movement toward "cause marketing," in which donors try to capitalize on sponsorship of a cause or group in their marketing efforts. For instance, a company might use a group's name in return for donating a portion of its sales to the organization.

Here's how Americans feel about causes, companies ,and their employers' roles in fighting social problems, based on a study last year commissioned by Cone Inc., a Boston marketing firm that develops and implements cause programs.


1. How much responsibility should each group have for solving social problems?



Churches, synagogues and other religious organizations Little or no responsibility 9 % Significant or a great deal of responsibility 53 % Private individuals Little or no responsibility 6 % Significant or a great deal of responsibility 61 % The government Little or no responsibility 10 % Significant or a great deal of responsibility 54 % Large companies/corporations Little or no responsibility 11 % Significant or a great deal of responsibility 42 % Non-profit associations and organizations Little or no responsibility 8 % Significant or a great deal of responsibility 46 %
Notable: Those with lower household incomes were more likely to believe business has "a great deal" of responsibility for solving social problems.


2. What social problems should business be working hardest to solve?


Three highest-rated:
   Quality of public education               33 %
   Crime                                     32 %
   Quality of the environment                30 %

Three lowest-rated:
   Domestic abuse                             9 %
   Alcohol abuse                              7 %
   Animal rights                              4 %

Notable: Little difference between men and women on the three highest-rated social problems, but wider variation by gender for the three lowest-rated.


3. How acceptable is it for companies to use a cause or issue in their marketing?


Very acceptable                               29 %
Somewhat acceptable                           45 %
Not very acceptable                            6 %
Not at all acceptable                          6 %

Notable: Among those deeming the practice "very acceptable," younger people were stronger supporters than older people.


4. If a company says it is helping a cause or issue by one of these methods, how believable is its commitment to solving the problem?


                                "Somewhat"    "Not very"
                                or "very"     or "not at all"
                                believable    believable

Donating money through             79 %           18 %
foundation or non-profit

Donating a percentage of           74 %           23 %
sales or profits

Advertisements showing how the     69 %           27 %
company's efforts have made a
significant improvement in a
social problem

Creating programs to help          68 %           26 %
solve problems

Asking consumers to get involved   68 %           27 %

Allowing employees time off        64 %           32 %
to volunteer

Saying that the company            56 %           39 %
addresses social problems
through all company policies,
such as hiring, manufacturing,
marketing

Notable: Executives/professionals evidenced more skepticism than others.


5. How do you feel about cause-related marketing?

                                     "Somewhat"       "Somewhat"
                                    or "strongly"    or "strongly"
                                       agree           disagree

When a product or company                83 %             14 %
supports a cause I care about,
I have a more positive image of
the product or company

I like to see companies committed        77 %             15 %
to a specific cause over a long
period, rather than many causes
over short periods

Cause-related marketing is a good        66 %             24 %
way to help solve social problems

When a company supports a cause          66 %             29 %
I care about, I trust the company
more

Cause-related marketing should           61 %             30 %
be a standard company activity

I would pay more for a product if        54 %             42 %
it was associated with a cause I
care about

Notable: Among those who would pay more, those with moderate household incomes -- ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 -- felt the strongest.


6. How do you feel about your company and its social commitment?


                                     "Somewhat"       "Somewhat"
                                    or "strongly"    or "strongly"
                                       agree           disagree

I feel a strong sense of loyalty         73 %             18 %
to my company

I feel proud of my company's values      67 %             19 %

It's important to me that my company     63 %             25 %
measures success in social terms
as well as financial terms

It would be important for my company     61 %             27 %
to encourage employees to become
personally involved in the causes
or issues the company supports

My company is helping to make the        57 %             28 %
world a better place

I wish my company would do more          56 %             25 %
to support a social cause or issue

Notable: Among those backing social and financial measures of success, support skewed heavily by education, with the most educated feeling the most strongly.

Source: In-person, in-home interviews with 1,996 men and women aged 18 and over, by Roper Starch Worldwide for Cone Inc.



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ONLINE EXTRA: TABLE: Companies and Causes: The Latest View of "Cause Marketing"



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