Cause Marketing - Relevance within Free Standing Inserts and how Brands, Restaurants and Retailers are all gaining relevancy through promotion

Cause Marketing Relevant Across Segments

In today’s marketplace, consumer segments have become increasingly diverse: Baby Boomers vs Millennials, Brand Loyalists vs ‘Locavores’ and so on. As a result, marketers have turned to tactics that emphasize multiple drivers of purchase incentives in order to cross segment demographics and achieve broader appeal to shoppers. Charity-based promotions and tie-ins via Free Standing Inserts (FSIs) not only deliver a perceived value for a brand, but also enable shoppers to contribute to a cause. Using data pulled from the Marx ProMotion PLUS service, it is evident that an emphasis on this ‘cause marketing’ approach is favored by many leading brands in their efforts to target multiple shoppers and households both regionally and nationally.

Beyond satisfying the need for consumer packaged goods, a promotion tied to a charity can also offer an intangible emotion of “doing good” that raises a brand’s perception in the eye of the shopper. Charities which are well promoted, recognized by shoppers, make a difference locally, and are easy to merchandise generate interest and support among retailers and may deemphasize price point concerns with consumers. While cause marketing occurs throughout the year, it was most visible in the final months of 2014. Several leading manufacturers partnered with well-known charities to specifically benefit from the typical increase in activity from these groups as they sought to create awareness for their causes during the traditional season of giving.

On November 9th alone, there were six separate charity-based promotions in the standard FSI books with partnerships from major CPG brands, restaurants and even retailers themselves. Fisher Nut partnered with Feeding Texas for the Shares & Cares campaign, donating $40,000 to feed 400,000 Texans during the 2014 Holiday season. Star Olive Oil took an extra step in their partnership with Operation Home Front by pledging $.50 to the charity for every coupon redeemed. Promotions such as these maximize brand influence by simplifying charity participation for the shopper while still encouraging purchase.

Restaurants utilize FSIs to participate in targeted cause marketing

Beyond manufacturers, restaurants may also utilize the FSI channel to participate in targeted cause marketing. On that same November 9th drop date, Applebee’s ran a regional promotion in Iowa allowing customers to double the advertised $1 donation to the Holden Comprehensive Care Cancer Care Center through coupon redemption. Papa John’s also ran an event on 11/9 that utilized their well known sponsorship with the NFL to partner with the Dream Builders Foundation, which works with professional athletes to assist children in need. The promotion was another locally targeted event, focused on the greater Nashville area and supported by the Tennessee Titans.

Retailers adoption of cause marketing

Not to be outdone, many retailers have now adopted cause marketing as well. Walmart paired with Kimberly Clark to support the Kaboom! Non-profit group devoted to encouraging active play for children. In the most impressive tie-in of the season, three different retailers actively supported Unilever’s Project Sunlight campaign on November 16th, 2014. Independently, Unilever offered a unique “BOGO” coupon wherein a shopper purchases any Unilever product and the manufacturer will in turn donate one meal to Feeding America. Dollar General and Walgreens participated in the campaign through promotions in their creatives, but it was Food Lion who built upon the original idea and offered to donate a second meal when the shopper redeems the coupon at Food Lion, thereby promoting the cause while increasing their share of coupon redemptions across the multiple participating Unilever brands.

There are many channels vying for the attention of the modern consumer today, each one seeking a unique voice to set themselves apart.

While certainly not a new tactic, cause marketing nonetheless has retained its relevance in this challenge by offering dual drivers of perceived value and charitable contributions to influence the shopping trip in a distinct and effective way.

For more information on Cause Marketing or other subjects of interest like New Products, please contact Marx today by calling 952-925-5272, email or find us online at

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