Partnering for a Better World
[Editor's Note: David Hessekiel is the co-author, with Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee, of the new book, "Good Works!: Marketing and Corporate Initiatives that Build a Better World … and the Bottom Line." Here, he talks a little about cause marketing and its impact on the nonprofit world.]
When I started out in this field 12 years ago, there was a tremendous division in the corporate world between those who were engaged in corporate social responsibility and those in cause marketing. Caricaturing a bit to make the point, people in corporate social responsibility were policy wonks focused on policy issues (e.g., environment, labor, governance) and were quite disconnected from operating business concerns. Cause marketers were seen as very promotionally driven marketers motivated to create short-term tie-ins with nonprofits to drive sales and publicity.
The reality was rarely that extreme, but there were elements of truth to those stereotypes. Over time it has become clearer that it is not wise for corporate social responsibility work to be divorced from the strategic needs of the business, and that highly promotional cause-marketing campaigns that are perceived as inauthentic and opportunistic will not stand up to public scrutiny. Fortunately, we've seen tremendous convergence between the CSR and CM communities as business leaders concluded they need to be more holistic.
There is not one widely accepted phrase to describe this phenomenon. Some of those in vogue these days are purpose-driven marketing, values-based marketing, social entrepreneurship and cause marketing. What they share is a common belief that a business can simultaneously build a better world and the bottom line. That's why my co-authors and I used that phrase as the subtitle for our book "Good Works!"
Reams of market research make it clear that consumers around the world prefer to buy from and work for companies that are socially responsible. In the most recent research from Cone Communications, 94 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that price and quality being equal, they would be likely to switch to a brand that supported worthy causes.