Why Cause Marketing Works for Targeting Gen Z

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Cause marketing has emerged as a powerful tool for companies aiming to connect with Gen Z consumers on a deeper level. In cause marketing, a for-profit brand supports a charitable cause or social issue for a common benefit.

In 2020, Forbes highlighted a groundbreaking global study on the business value of brands with a well-defined “purpose.” The study revealed that purposeful brands enjoy significant business benefits, as consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend them.

Authentic Cause Marketing

The North Face’s recent initiative, offering a discount for completing a racial inclusion course, exemplifies how brands can leverage their influence to drive positive change while engaging their audience. However, while well-intentioned, The North Face’s campaign highlights the crucial role of due diligence and its effect on public perception.

Remember this above all else: the effectiveness of cause marketing campaigns relies on authenticity and sincere dedication to the cause.

Understanding Gen Z Values

To effectively harness the potential of cause marketing, companies must first understand Gen Z’s values and priorities. This demographic cares about social issues and expects brands to take a stand on important matters. 

Aligning marketing efforts with causes that resonate with Gen Z, such as environmental sustainability, mental health awareness, and social justice, can foster meaningful connections and drive engagement.

Strategies for Successful Cause Marketing Campaigns:

  • Partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations aligned with the cause.
  • Incorporating the cause into the brand’s core values and mission statement.
  • Empowering employees to participate actively in the cause.
  • Transparently communicating the impact of the campaign to consumers.

Incorporating these strategies can ensure that efforts resonate with Gen Z and drive authentic engagement and meaningful change.

A person of color stands on top of a mountain with their arms outstretched taking in fresh air

Examples of Effective Cause Marketing

There are several instances where brands get cause marketing right including Patagonia’s ongoing commitment to environmental conservation and Dove’s “Self-Esteem Project,” which promotes body positivity and self-confidence among young women. 

Brands that take the time necessary to fully flesh out their ideas can seamlessly integrate their cause marketing efforts into their brand identity, earning the trust and loyalty of consumers.

Brands that adopt this approach position themselves for success, especially given that, according to Edelman’s 2023 Trust Barometer, 63% of consumers make purchasing decisions or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values.

However, brands can sometimes launch a cause marketing campaign with good intentions while overlooking how the public might perceive it.

Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Developing A Cause Marketing Campaign:

  • Avoid superficial or tokenistic gestures that exploit social issues for profit.
  • Don’t engage in “cause washing” or use cause marketing as a bandwagon without genuine commitment.
  • Avoid partnering with organizations or causes that do not align with the brand’s values or mission.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of transparency and accountability in communicating the campaign’s impact.

Avoiding these pitfalls is crucial for ensuring that your campaign resonates authentically with your audience and positively impacts society.

The North Face’s Initiative

While certain brands thrive by championing critical social justice issues through brand activism, The North Face’s experience demonstrates that not every cause marketing endeavor yields favorable outcomes.

While The North Face’s discount program’s intention to promote allyship is commendable, some critics argue that a one-hour course may not be sufficient to address deep-rooted issues of racial inequality. 

Additionally, offering a discount in exchange for completing the course may come across as tokenistic or exploitative of social issues.

An alternate approach for The North Face could have involved partnering with grassroots organizations or experts in racial inclusion to develop a more comprehensive educational program. Rather than offering discounts as incentives, the brand could have pledged to donate a percentage of sales from a designated collection to support initiatives promoting racial justice and equality. 

This approach would demonstrate a genuine commitment to the cause and provide tangible support to organizations working towards systemic change.

In short, cause marketing presents a valuable opportunity for companies to engage Gen Z consumers authentically and drive positive change. By aligning with meaningful causes, maintaining transparency, and demonstrating genuine commitment, brands can harness the power of cause marketing to make a meaningful impact on society while strengthening their connection with the next generation of consumers.

Contact us today to explore how you can collaborate with Blavity Inc. on a purpose-driven cause marketing campaign that resonates positively with the multicultural community.