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When the economy began to shift a few years ago, many consumers started to feel differently about spending their money. Whether by simply cutting back on their spending or taking advantage of coupons and promotions, consumers have become much more conservative in how they spend money. It is becoming increasingly important for people to maximize their budget and gain full benefits for themselves and their families.

Because of this, a concept that has been around for a very long time has begun to take shape over the last few years among large and even small businesses. It’s called “Cause Marketing.” While many businesses have always been big on giving philanthropic donations and helping out non-profit organizations for the greater good, there is a form of marketing that some of these businesses are starting to use that not only benefits a non-profit organization but also provides a profit for their company as well.

If you are unfamiliar with the term “Cause Marketing” or “Cause Sponsorship Marketing,” it is a partnership between a non-profit organization and a for-profit company for a MUTUAL profit that benefits both… all the while meeting the needs and demands of consumers to bring satisfaction in a stressful economy.

Example One: Target REDcard

Target’s REDcard program is a debit or credit card that provides Target shoppers with additional discounts and savings that they cannot receive when using other forms of payment. With things like 5% rewards, free shipping, and even pharmacy discounts… the REDcard program is an incentive for consumers to save even more when shopping at Target.

In addition, users of Target’s REDcard have the opportunity to choose any K-12 school, in which Target will then donate 1% of all that user’s purchases on their REDcard to the school of their choice.

So what’s the catch? There is none. Target has found a unique way of providing its customers with additional discounts and savings while also giving a charitable donation to K-12 schools across the U.S. This is not just a Win-Win for consumers and for children’s education; it’s a Win-Win-Win for Target as well while they continue to profit from purchases made by customers using their REDcard.

Example Two: TOMS Shoes

TOMS is a company that has gained huge success in its promise that for every pair of shoes purchased, a pair of shoes would be given to a child in need. “One for One.” After the first year, the company’s owner, Blake Mycoskie, and a group of family, friends, and staff… traveled to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes for needy children. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for TOMS customers and their purchases from the prior year.

In America, shoes are a commodity, and without even thinking, we put them on and wear them every day. In other, less fortunate countries, this is not the case. Many children grow up barefoot without any shoes at all.

Generally speaking, when people are offered the option of purchasing a product that benefits some organization, their answer is usually “OK.” However, because of the change in the economy and how consumers spend their money, they are looking at some of these forms of Cause Marketing skeptically. People want to know that their money will provide tangible goods for the greater cause.

Now, when consumers are ready to purchase new shoes or are often presented with a choice between brands, many are turning to TOMS because they know there is a significant cause behind their purchase and the children are getting a tangible item. TOMS has now provided a quality product to consumers, a quality product to the children in need (“One for One”), and by doing so is now branding the company in a way that is producing more business overall. A total WIN-WIN-WIN.

In a recent article, we found that Cause Marketing has continued to prove its success over the last few years. Sponsorship spending on cause marketing is expected to increase by 4.8 percent from 2012 to 2013, totaling $1.78 billion. Retail, financial services and pharmaceuticals are the most active industries, while Coca-Cola, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo are the most active businesses utilizing Cause Marketing.

For a long time, Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation has considered our business to be a Cause Marketing company in all aspects. We allow businesses or sponsors to brand their company name and logo while some of their proceeds pay to pick up trash along the highways where they advertise. This… ultimately benefits the environment and the community but also allows companies to advertise simultaneously.

While searching for new and effective ways to market our business, the question has now been raised:

 “How can we creatively provide more incentives for businesses and consumers through this concept of Cause Marketing that ends in an all-around WIN-WIN-WIN?”

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