Companies Deck The Aisles With Holiday Cause Marketing

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday may be behind us, but with more than ten days left in the holiday season, companies still need to find ways to attract the hearts and wallets of holiday shoppers. As holiday marketing reaches a crescendo, companies are turning to cause marketing to differentiate and prove their commitments to social and environmental issues.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of Americans expect companies to support causes during the holiday season and just as many would purchase a product that supports a cause over one that does not, according to the 2012 Cone Communications Holiday Trend Tracker. This holiday cheer extends to feelings of company goodwill, as 75 percent of Americans say they feel better about a company that supports a cause during the holidays.

Companies are heeding the consumer demand for doing good with an abundance of holiday-related cause marketing campaigns hitting stores during the past few weeks. A sample of holiday cause marketing themes include:

•    Holiday Heritage – Consumers welcomed the return of many tried-and-true campaigns making long-standing commitments to important causes. St. Jude's "Thanks and Giving" program is running 10 years strong with the help of more than 50 corporate partners, while Toys "R" Us and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation's annual holiday toy drive is now entering its ninth year, again with the help of Shaquille O'Neal.

•    Social Good Gifts – This holiday season brought an influx of gifts that have a social purpose and impact at their core. Crate & Barrel's "A World of Good" effort supports local artisans across the world with special holiday ornaments, while UNICEF partnered with a number of companies to support its "Holiday Gifts That Give Back" campaign. From Ikea's plush toys to a $1,200 Gucci tote bag, consumers can feel good knowing their money is going to a worthy cause.

•    High-End Holiday – Upscale retailers are getting in the giving spirit with campaigns that are both stylish and fanciful. Neiman Marcus* is adding a new component to its famous Christmas Book filled with luxury wonders by donating a portion of each fantasy gift to charity as part of its "Heart of Neiman Marcus" campaign. Luxury retailer Barney's has partnered with Jay-Z to launch the Shawn Carter Collection as part of "A New York Holiday." Sales from the new clothing line will benefit the Shawn Carter Foundation.

•    One-Stop Cause Shop – Online retailers are now also embracing the opportunity and are presenting consumers with turn-key cause activations. Amazon recently launched Amazon Smile, which activates a 0.5% donation to charity for each purchase, while KMART makes it simple to add donation items to online carts using the "Shop Your Way Charity Gift Registry" to benefit Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign.

What holiday cause marketing campaigns have caught your eye? Let us know on Twitter using #ConeCSR!

*Cone project/client


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