The rise of social impact messaging in consumer engagement

What is “authentic social impact engagement”? And what does it mean for traditional cause marketing? We think that is a very good question, especially as it relates to female consumers. 

The drivers of consumer action in the social impact arena are fundamentally different from the drivers of consumer action in a purely commercial setting. A deliberate process of affirmation, education, inspiration, and motivation is the key to generating action-oriented engagement that leads to brand loyalty and repeat buying.

For four decades, cause marketing has been a firmly-rooted method for businesses to improve public relations, increase customer engagement, and create additional marketing opportunities. But is cause marketing alone the most effective method for a business to drive a return on investment from “doing good”? Emerging research suggests that brands can dramatically enhance the results of cause marketing strategies through an “authentic social impact engagement” process.

An intensive consumer research study of mothers and children is beginning to isolate pivotal data points and key consumer perspectives related to the power of social impact messaging. This research will begin to inform marketing teams at consumer products companies who intend to deploy social impact-based strategies to drive a greater emotional connection between the female consumer and the brand.

In the study, mothers of one or more children under the age of 18 were asked to complete a “10 Ways to Do Good” arts and crafts exercise with their children. The project was designed to celebrate the good that the families were already doing–regardless of the causes supported. Following the exercise, mothers were asked to complete a brief online tutorial about the 10 Ways to Do Good.

Here’s the bottom line. (Well, three bottom lines.)

When asked at the conclusion of the research study: “If there were products on the market today that helped you engage with your family in one or more of the 10 Ways to Do Good, how likely would you be to purchase those products?" 85% answered YES, they would be likely to purchase those products.

When asked at the conclusion of the research study: “How likely are you to use part or all of the material in the survey to help teach your children or grandchildren, 18 years of age or younger, about the 10 Ways to Do Good?” 100% answered YES.

When asked at the conclusion of the research study: “Do you feel like you have a better mental picture of the day-to-day activities that are part of your overall ‘social impact’–how you are making a positive difference in the lives of other people?” 91% answered YES.

Wow. With numbers like that, it only made sense that the research team had to go deeper, through 60-minute individual interviews with participants. And the results were equally powerful.

“I want a company to acknowledge my current situation as it relates to social impact.”

“I want a company to understand my need to educate my children about doing good.”

“I want a company to inspire me to involve my children in doing good.”

“I want a company to motivate me by making it easy for me to involve my children in doing good.“

 How’s that for the power of consumer engagement through social impact messaging? We’re sold.