Economic turmoil. Environmental disasters. Corporate corruption. When it comes to the role of business in society, the last two years have been turbulent at best. Despite the hardships Americans have faced, their purchasing behavior and appetite for cause-related products and services has soared, according to the just-released 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study. This 17-year benchmark study explores Americans’ attitudes and expectations of companies to support social and environmental issues.

Americans’ enthusiasm for cause marketing emerged from the turmoil fully intact and continues to strongly influence their purchase decisions:

  • 88% say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing;
  • 83% want more of the products, services and retailers they use to benefit causes;
  • 85% have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about; and,  
  • 80% are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause.

Not only are consumers willing to switch among similar brands, they are also willing to step outside their comfort zones. When it supports a cause:

  • 61% of Americans say they would be willing to try a new brand or one unfamiliar to them;
  • 46% would try a generic or private-label brand; and,
  • Nearly one-in-five consumers (19%) would be willing to purchase a more expensive brand.

The data signal a ripe opportunity for companies to engage consumers on a new level – one that fulfills both their needs for goods and to do good. Consumers are insisting companies support social issues and it clearly serves as a powerful differentiator in an increasingly competitive environment.

The full study is free to download on the Cone website, which includes a look at the role of employees as cause ambassadors and two of the most socially driven consumer segments in history – moms and Millennials.

Cone EVP Alison DaSilva discuss the research in a video announcement of the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study.


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