Holiday shoppers harried, charity-minded

Financial worries may limit the amount of time and money people commit directly to charity this holiday season, but many are still seeking to support causes through their holiday gift lists, a new survey says.

According to the 2007 Cone Holiday Trend Tracker, an annual survey of shoppers’ attitudes, roughly half those surveyed actively look for cause-related gifts on their holiday shopping trips.

Rising gas, oil and housing prices have caused many to say they will cut back on direct commitments to charity this year, with nearly three in four respondents who say they would devote less time or money than usual to charity during the holidays citing the increased cost of living.

Yet many shoppers are still committed to putting their money behind a charitable cause, with 42 percent reporting they have already purchased or plan to purchase a cause-related holiday gift this year, compared to 39 percent who say they did so last year.

Brands whose proceeds go in part to support a favorite cause are even more popular with many shoppers.

Of the adults Cone surveyed, almost six in 10 are willing to pay more for a brand that espouses charity, and almost eight in 10 say that if price and quality were equal, they would choose a cause-associated brand over another.

Yet most consumers feel they have been left in the dark when it comes to corporate philanthropy.

Seven in 10 say they don’t know which causes, if any, most companies are supporting, the survey says, and two-thirds of respondents say they wish companies would give them more opportunities to be involved as consumers in the causes they support.

“If businesses are to succeed in getting consumers to open their hearts and their wallets, they must tell consumers how to get involved and the specific impact they can make,” says Julia Kivistik, executive vice president of cause branding at Cone.

Cone LLC is a Boston-based strategy and communications agency that works to build brand trust through cause branding, brand marketing, corporate responsibility and crisis prevention and management.

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