Consumers Question Intent and Impact of Breast Cancer Cause Marketing

Consumers Question Intent and Impact of Breast Cancer Cause Marketing

New research shows Americans increasingly skeptical
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Findings from new @Cone research: Consumers Question Intent and Impact of Breast Cancer Cause Marketing #coneresearch

Multimedia from this Release

Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 10:15am

CAMPAIGN: 2012 Cone Communications Breast Cancer Trend Tracker

CONTENT: Press Release

BOSTON, October 18, 2012 /3BL Media/ – Nearly all Americans (92%) believe breast cancer is a critical cause for corporations to support, but just 26 percent feel companies have had a significant positive impact on the issue. Moreover, only half (52%) of consumers believe their individual breast cancer-related purchases make a difference, according to the 2012 Cone Communications Breast Cancer Trend Tracker.

Buying with Skepticism

For now, supporting the breast cancer cause remains a viable cause marketing strategy for corporations – the “pink” halo effect is enough to prompt consumer purchase and participation. The majority (86%) of consumers report a positive impression of a company or brand that supports the breast cancer cause, and nearly half (45%) of consumers surveyed say they have purchased, or plan to purchase, a breast cancer-related product this October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Although three-quarters (74%) of Americans state they are more likely to purchase a breast cancer-related product or service during October over others, with price and quality being equal, they are becoming desensitized and increasingly skeptical.

  • 77 percent of consumers think some companies support the breast cancer cause solely for corporate gain
  • 68 percent say very few breast cancer cause promotions stand out to them, given the large number of programs in the marketplace
  • 30 percent do not know whether their purchases actually benefit the cause

“Until there is a cure, breast cancer will undoubtedly remain a compelling issue for companies to support,” says Alison DaSilva, executive vice president, Cone Communications. “However, companies must take heed as consumers become increasingly skeptical about their intents and impacts. At some point, consumers won’t continue to buy pink just out of the goodness of their hearts. They will want to know the return they are having from their participation and purchases.”

Consumers Demand Results

Today’s consumers require proof of impact and deeper corporate commitment to the breast cancer cause. Almost all Americans say they want companies and brands to support the breast cancer cause year-round, not just in October (90%), and they wish companies would do a better job of communicating how consumer purchases advance the issue (88%).

Furthermore, consumers want companies to support the cause in substantive ways. Although just 6 percent are content with corporate dollars going toward disease awareness and education, consumers would prefer to see contributions applied toward research for a cure (46%), screenings and prevention (26%) and support for women and families affected by breast cancer (22%).

“Breast cancer cause marketing will only sustain its positive impact on corporate reputation and the bottom-line if companies demonstrate genuine connections to the cause beyond a transaction,” DaSilva says. “Corporations must do a far better job consistently communicating the return of their breast cancer cause efforts, as well as meaningfully articulating individual consumers’ roles in the fight against the disease.”

2012 Breast Cancer Cause Marketing Trends

Cone Communications’ has identified five leading trends from the breast cancer cause marketing efforts this October, including:

  • Diversifying nonprofit partners: No longer do one or two large nonprofits rule the breast cancer space in October. As the breast cancer cause undergoes increased scrutiny, brands are turning to distinct partners for a unique approach and impact. Nonprofits shining through include: Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Young Survival Coalition, among other niche organizations.
  • Putting a face on the issue: Whether featuring real-world cancer survivors as campaign models, as in Ford’s Warriors in Pink “Models of Courage,” or naming products after breast cancer victims, such as Caribou Coffee’s “Amy’s Blend,” brands are connecting with consumers through true-life stories, quite literally putting the faces of breast cancer, not the brand, front and center.
  • Shifting from the grocery aisle to the beauty aisle: “Pink” once seemed centralized to food and beverage products, but today the fashion and beauty industry is taking center-stage. From cosmetics, to jewelry, to apparel, the bulk of this year’s campaigns are coming from the beauty world.
  • Going beyond donations: Some brands, like Avon and Novartis, are providing more than just dollars toward the cause – they are creating opportunities for people affected by breast cancer to connect to critical emotional support through online communities and social networking.
  • Curating collections: Companies such as Sephora and Macy’s are offering carefully selected “suites” of products in support of breast cancer, giving consumers a wider selection of items to purchase and maximizing opportunities to capture support.

About the Research:

The 2012 Cone Communications Breast Cancer Trend Tracker presents the findings of an online Toluna QuickSurvey conducted October 4, 2012 among a sample of 1,000 American adults 18 years of age and older belonging to the community.

About Cone Communications:

Cone Communications ( is a public relations and marketing agency known for igniting brands with high-impact strategies and programs based in deep insights, unique subject matter expertise and innovation. Focusing on key areas such as consumer product media relations, social media, cause branding and marketing, corporate responsibility, nonprofit marketing, corporate communications and crisis prevention/management, the agency is positioned to help clients achieve both business and societal outcomes. Cone Communications is a part of the Omnicom Group (NYSE: OMC) (

About Diversified Agency Services:

Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc (NYSE: OMC) (, manages Omnicom’s holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.

About Omnicom Group Inc.:

Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) ( is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.


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Whitney Dailey
+1 (617) 939-8376
Cone Communications