The 2009 PR Week / Barkley Cause Survey uncovers that while consumers have decreased spending on charitable giving, 91% expect companies to fill that gap and showcase their commitment to the greater good (up from 86% in 2008). The study also reveals that cause can make strong business sense for brands by increasing trial, loyalty, sales, and even higher prices at the cash register. Consumer Spending logo

“At a time when corporate America is not trusted or respected the way it used to be, customers are looking for brands they can trust and feel good about,” said Chris Mann, brand marketing manager, New Balance. “Cause makes a statement in that regard.”

Of those consumers surveyed, 74% say they purchased a brand because it supported a cause, 75% would try a brand they normally wouldn’t because it supported a cause, and 64% would pay more for a brand because it supports a cause that is important to them (up from 61%, 64% and 52%, respectively, in 2008).

Corporate leaders have responded: 58% now engage in cause marketing. Of those, 61% plan to continue to the same level of commitment to causes in spite of the recession. Furthermore, 97% believe cause is a valid business strategy.

Corporate leaders are also showcasing their efforts as never before, with 82% actively promoting their causes. The promotional efforts can be seen on-package, in advertising and in earned media such as public relations–a direct reaction to consumers’ increasing demand for transparency.

“Companies today are looking at it more strategically than ever before,” said Mike Swenson, CMO, Barkley. “The results are that the programs are more meaningful and focused … better programs that will work harder for the brand and nonprofit alike.”

“2009 PR Week/Barkley Cause Survey,” conducted by CA Walker for Barkley, November 3, 2009.  Website: www.barkleyus.com.