Friday, February 11, 2011

Good Causes Matter to Consumers

Does a  customer prefer to buy from a company with social purpose or from a similar one without any obvious support of a good cause? How would they know which businesses support a good cause?

Recent studies from Edelman's Good Purpose Study 2010 , have confirmed that businesses with social purpose have a marketing advantage with consumers. Over 66%  of customers prefer to buy products from those businesses that support a good cause over similar products in quality and price even when such things as brand loyalty and design are taken into account. More interestingly though, in the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, consumers, 278 million of them want to know how a company is supporting a good cause.

While consumers are becoming more aware of businesses partnering with causes through cause marketing, like Pepsi Refresh, and KFC, Pink Buckets For the Cure (see our thoughts about that one) most aren't aware of which companies exist that have integrated a good cause or have any form of social purpose embedded in their business practices, whether it be a portion of profits donated to charities or products made of sustainable materials, or any other form of support of a good cause such as we have profiled here. Some of these social purpose companies have achieved the brand awareness of Newman's Own or Whole Foods and have thrived as a result.

Along has come an organization, that certifies this new type of business called  B Corporations. Through the non-profit B Lab, businesses that are founded with the intention and the social  purpose of  solving social and environmental problems are certified as B Corporations, better known as B Corps, much the same way as Fair trade coffee and other products are certified.

The parent B Corps/B Lab organization has recognized the problem with consumer recognition of these kinds of companies. They are addressing this desire and interest of values-driven consumers to buy from companies with a social purpose with a "better way to do business campaign", targeting ads in magazines published by Ogden Publications, such as Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, Natural Home and Herb Companion and in online communities like The B Corp ads promote the idea that "when you buy from  a certified B Corp you are supporting a better way of doing business." They believe that it is time to build awareness of this movement and to highlight these companies so that consumers can make an informed decision.

So in this ad for Better World Books vs. a regular online bookstore the reasons for buying from them are featured, including the giving back millions of dollars to support the good causes of literacy programs and libraries. I might add myself, that as much as I like the "other" online company, shopping with Better World Books is an amazing experience.

The real question is how mainstream can and will this trend go? Can all kinds of consumers, become more conscious of their choice to support businesses that give back and do business in a more sustainable way? Certainly cause marketing has been banking on this. But will we be seeing advertising for companies that have embedded social purpose in their business advertising in mainstream media and as Google ads? More than likely if these companies succeed as businesses and can afford it, they will -witness the TOMS shoes advertising that is all over the place.

See B Corps designated businesses that we have featured at Business That Cares, including great interviews with their founders: Better World Books, Pura Vida Coffee, GiveSomething Back and GoodCapital

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