Nearly All Consumers Likely to Switch Brands to Support a Cause This Holiday Season

New research, experts predict holiday consumer shopping behavior will likely continue into the New Year
Dec 1, 2011 11:47 AM ET
(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) Boston, MA – December 1, 2011 – With the holiday shopping season in full swing, new research reveals that consumers’ heartstrings are leading their purchase decisions and putting brands’ support of social issues at the top of their gift lists – supporting a steady 18-year trend in consumer behavior.   According to data from Cone Communications, a public relations and marketing agency specializing in cause branding and corporate responsibility, an overwhelming 94 percent of consumers are likely to switch brands, about equal in price and quality, to one that supports a social issue. This purchase behavior is at an all-time high since Cone first began measuring consumer purchase trends in 1993, according to one of Cone’s cause marketing experts, Craig Bida.   “Over the years, consumers have been increasingly expecting companies to support social causes. Now we’re seeing Americans demand companies address issues by speaking with their wallets,” said Bida, executive vice president of cause branding and nonprofit marketing.   Additionally, Cone’s research shows that:
  • Most consumers (91 percent) would buy a product associated with a cause, if given the opportunity; 62 percent say they already have purchased a cause-related product in the past year.

  • Eight out of ten respondents (81 percent) would donate to a charity supported by a company they trust, if given the opportunity; 70 percent say they have already made a donation in the past year.

In ranking specific causes consumers want to support, economic development topped their wish list, at 96 percent.   “Americans expect companies to address issues that affect the quality of life locally and advance economic development, such as Starbucks’ Create Jobs for USA campaign,” said Bida. “This campaign has differentiated Starbucks from the competition and given it an edge to communicating brand values during the holidays and amid a struggling economy.”   “For companies, the message is clear,” continued Bida, “with consumer expectations higher than ever, it is critical for brands to support causes and demonstrate meaningful impact on important social issues.”   Editor’s note: Cone has been tracking holiday cause marketing for several years and, in 2011, it conducted a global study of consumer cause marketing expectations and behavior. Bida and other experts at Cone are available to discuss consumer expectations and behaviors, philanthropy and cause marketing insights and trends, including the top 10 cause marketing trends of 2011. For interviews, contact Maureen O’Connell at 617-939-8330 or   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) (   CONE19228