One of the most successful examples of cause marketing is the Product Red campaign that was launched in 2006. This was when the Red foundation paired up with recognizable brands such as Starbucks, Gap, Coke and Apple to raise money for HIV/AIDS. Since its launch, the organization has raised $215 million. This money goes straight to The Global Fund, who invests 100% of the earnings to HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. This marketing seems to be benefiting both parties because while the nonprofit is raising money and visibility, the for-profit is gaining customers who support the cause.
The reason cause marketing is so popular is because it gives consumers an extrinsic and intrinsic reward for their purchases. The extrinsic motivation to buy the product is the product itself. While the intrinsic motivation is to walk away knowing that you just donated money to a good cause. In the book Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky describes how times are changing and people are now doing things just because they want to, not because they are getting rewarded. I agree with him and believe that people are still going to buy products that they already wanted or needed before they found out it was connected to an organization. If someone wants Starbucks, they are going to get it whether or not it is on the day that the company is donating to the Red foundation.
What do you think? Have you ever gone out of your way to buy a certain product, because you knew a percentage of your purchase was going to go to a good cause? Would you buy a Red iPod, even though you wanted the green one? Take a minute and think about if you are more driven by intrinsic or extrinsic motives.