Are Consumers Shopping for a Cause This Holiday Season?

As the holiday shopping season swings into full gear, our 2012 Cone Communications Holiday Trend Tracker reveals cause is still key to holiday marketing, with nearly three-quarters of consumers expecting companies to support causes this busy shopping season. What has become less clear is whether tying a cause ribbon around a product is enough to convince consumers to purchase.

According to the Trend Tracker, just 16 percent of consumers plan to purchase, or have already purchased, cause-related gifts (a decrease from 49% in 2010). Why this shift? One explanation may be that consumers are more aware of cause marketing, and as a result, more discerning about how and where they spend their dollars. Sixty-six percent of consumers say they notice more cause campaigns in the market than in previous years, and 75 percent want to know more about the results of cause-related holiday products.

Consumers are savvier than ever and they demand results. Simply aligning with a cause during the holidays is not enough to motivate purchase. Companies must go a step further and articulate the impact and return of CSR campaigns. Roughly two-in-five Americans (41%) are still undecided if they'll participate in holiday cause marketing – meaning there's still time for companies to capture the hearts and wallets of consumers this gift-giving season.

Some big changes are coming next week to What Do You Stand For? -- stay tuned!

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