When it Comes to Charity, Consumers are Giving Less But Expecting More from Brands, Says EMA Survey

While the weakened economy is forcing consumers to reduce their personal giving to charities, according to the recent EMA Cause Marketing and the Economy Poll from Eric Mower and Associates (EMA), a nationally recognized independent marketing communications firm, the majority of Americans (85%) expect the brands they support to continue, or even increase, their giving to charity.

The EMA Cause Marketing and the Economy Poll, which was conducted nationally Nov. 14-18, was developed by EMA to gauge how current economic conditions affect the emotional connection created between consumers and brands through cause-related marketing.

Giving Less, Expecting More
The poll found that in today’s economic pinch, 62% of consumers expect to give less or not give at all to charities in the future. However, the survey also revealed that the same consumers who are holding back expect the brands they support to do more, with 85% of Americans polled saying they expect brands to maintain or increase their giving to charitable organizations during times of economic uncertainty. The breakdown of the 85% is an eye-opener for brands: 60% of those polled expect the brands they support to maintain current levels and 25% expect brands to increase their giving.

Brands Can Help Consumers Fulfill Promise of Giving
As consumer spending continues to decline, particularly in areas of charitable giving, the EMA Cause Marketing and the Economy Poll found that Americans are relying more on the brands they support to do their giving for them. The poll found that 57% of respondents felt that by purchasing a product that directly linked to supporting a charity or cause, they were, in fact, supporting the charity/cause.

“The EMA Cause Marketing and the Economy Poll underscores the value of cause-related marketing strategies and how in tough economic times, brand and product tie-ins to charitable causes can deliver even greater value—to the charity/cause, to consumers, and ultimately to the product or brand,” said Chuck Beeler, Director of Social Branding at EMA.

Other key findings include:

  • 62% of Americans felt that a product connection to a cause/charity they cared about would affect their purchase decision.
  • When choosing between products of similar price and quality, 2/3 of respondents (67%) said they would switch brands if a brand supported a charity they cared about.
  • Nearly 1/3 (31%) would be willing to pay more for a product if the purchase benefitted a charity they supported.

“At face value, these findings may seem bleak, but they show that consumers are not only supportive of brand tie-ins to causes, they are going to depend on them more to help them participate in charitable giving,” Beeler explained. “For some brands, this responsibility—helping their customers give back through product linkages—may seem unrealistic in today’s economy; however, for forward-thinking companies, it creates an opportunity to more closely connect with their customers while creating new levels of support for a charity or cause.”

Cause-Related Marketing Builds Loyalty in Tough Times
“Worsening economic conditions are forcing customers to spend less. What they spend, they are going to spend smarter, and they’re going to do it with the brands they care about most,” said Beeler. “When we come out on the other end of this financial crisis, customers will remember the brands that got them through the tough times.”

The EMA Cause Marketing and the Economy Poll was conducted via a Zoomerang internet poll of 520 adult consumers on Nov. 14-18, with a margin of error of +/- 4.3%.

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