On February 15, 2013, there was a call to South African men and women to wear all black to work to demonstrate against violence against women and children, following on several horrific murders and rapes and on going high levels of abuse against women and children in South Africa.
Organisations as well as individuals got on board and social media buzzed with pictures from many workplaces of teams all dressed in black. This also spawned debate as to whether largely symbolic protests such as this actually have any measured impact, beyond generating debate and some awareness.
It is an indication of a broader concientisation of society, aided by social media, that allows causes and movements such as this to be heard and to spread and for people to want to take action, and for memes like #StopRape to start trending. The mobilisation of Indian protests following on the abhorrent rape and death of a 23-year-old medical student (as yet unnamed under Indian law) in India recently; as well as the local protests against the rape, murder and mutilation of 17-year-old Anele Booysen in South Africa, are an indication of the growing outrage of ordinary citizens rallying against injustice and causes such as this.
#TREND. 1: Growth
Consumers are becoming activists and they want their brands to care about the same things they do:
- 81% of consumers around the world want companies to address key social and environmental issues.
- 93% say companies should go beyond just legal compliance to operate responsibly.
- 94% expect companies to analyse and evolve their businesses to make their impact as positive as possible.
- 94% of consumers surveyed in the United States say they are likely to switch brands to support a cause if both brands are similar in price and quality.
- 94% say they would buy a product that has an environmental benefit; 76% have already done so in the past year.
- 93% of consumers in the US would buy a product associated with a cause; 65% have already done so in the past year.
Businesses globally used to think that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was an option. It certainly no longer is.
Brands need consumers – and consumers want to support good causes through their purchases and expect companies to be responsible throughout their business operations, including business partners, suppliers, distributors and the like.
Non-profits in turn are benefiting from this more socially conscious, activist consumer, and are reporting more cause marketing arrangements are being made with businesses.
The Cause Marketing Forum, a US organisation that brings business and causes together and develops best practices, recently found in a survey that two-thirds of “America’s leading non-profits engaged in cause marketing, expect to form more business alliances in 2012″.
#TREND. 2: Cause marketing supplants corporate philanthropy
Cause marketing has driven a change in corporate giving globally, shifting the weight of corporate funding for non-profits from corporate philanthropy (grants), to cause marketing. About.com reports that a recent survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy of its Philanthropy 400 (the groups that raise the bulk of charitable donations in the US), said that “corporate and foundation gifts have withered…”.
The reason given is that the funds are being diverted into marketing to be given to causes which are more likely to show a “return on investment” for companies. It may sound shallow, but in this economic climate, most businesses can’t afford to give money away, according to donors.
#TREND. 3: Best practice
“Green washing” is a term being bandied about more frequently as companies and brands are found out for insincere CSR or CSI programmes, specifically in the environmental field. As cause marketing grows more prominent, so does the need for best practice and standards to encourage transparency and avoid fraud.
In South Africa, the latest buzzword among the non-governmental (NGO) sector is compliance – corporates want to know where their money is going and how it is spent and both the business sector and Government re now also calling on the NGO sector to ensure compliance and accountability best practice.
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