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Cause-related marketing seen as effective

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Efforts by corporations to tie their products and services to charities and causes can boost sales in some instances, new research says.

Exposure to cause-related marketing had a positive effect on some product sales in two studies conducted by Cone and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

In an initial study, 182 people viewed either cause-related or traditional advertising and then shopped in a mock convenience store.

Almost two-thirds more people who had viewed the cause-related advertising for shampoo purchased the product than did those who had seen traditional advertising.

A similar, though lesser, effect was seen for toothpaste, with a 24 percent increase in actual purchase by those who had viewed cause-related ads.

For products including chips and light bulbs, however, cause-related ads were associated with only slight increases in actual purchase.

In a follow-up study with 1,000 participants, cause-related marketing was shown to have a positive effect, but not as strong as seen in the initial study.

Actual sales of shampoo and toothpaste jumped 19 percent and 5 percent respectively for people exposed to cause-related advertising.

“One thing we know for sure – consumers are paying more attention to cause messages, and as a result, are more likely to purchase,” says Gavan Fitzsimons, a marketing professor at Duke and lead researcher for the study. “This is clearly great news for brand managers, as every percentage increase can translate to millions of dollars in revenue.”

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