American demand for cause is stronger than ever, according to 20 years of benchmarking data released recently by Cone Communications.   Despite a marketplace saturated with cause-related programs and messages, the U.S. consumer appetite for corporate support of social and environmental issues appears insatiable. Cause

Over half (54%) of American bought a product associated with a cause over the last 12 months, a 170% increase since 1993.  And 89% of Americans are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality, up nearly 35% since 1993.

“In the midst of the ribbonization of America – where it’s near-impossible to walk down a store aisle without spotting a cause – consumers want to see even more brands engage in social and environmental issues,” said Alison DaSilva, executive VP, Research & Insights, Cone Communications. “Through 20 years of research, Americans’ inclinations to shop for good has ebbed and flowed, alongside economic upheaval, political unrest and acts of terrorism. But one thing remains clear: consumer demand for cause is stronger than ever, solidifying it as a savvy business strategy.”

The study reveals the majority of Americans are uncertain of the extent to which corporate and individual efforts result in meaningful change. Despite a plethora of cause initiatives, fewer than one-in-five consumers (16%) believes companies have made significant positive impact on social or environmental issues, and just 25% believes their own purchases substantially influence those issues.

“The onus is on companies to go beyond mission statements to provide personally relevant and tangible evidence that collectively, businesses and consumers are moving the needle,” said Craig Bida, executive VP, social impact, Cone Communications.

The study showed the U.S. Hispanic population to be one of the most actively engaged consumer segments to-date. Hispanics are more apt than the general U.S. population to purchase products and services associated with causes (94% vs. 89% general population). And they more frequently go beyond the register to donate (70% vs. 65%), volunteer (47% vs. 42%) and advocate on behalf of companies (43% vs. 38%).

To learn more about cause shoppers, check out the AudienceSCAN report available on the Research Store at ad-ology.com.

[Source:  “2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study.”  Cone Communications. 2 Oct. 2013.  Web.  4 Oct. 2013.]