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Take It From A Millennial // Cause Marketing

21 July 2017

A few weeks ago, I started this blog series to give you tips on how best to reach millennials from the point of view of a millennial marketing intern here at Compass Marketing and Consulting. Throughout the last few weeks, we have been examining different aspects that call our attention and turn us into loyal consumers. This week, we take it one step further and examine how your brand can use cause marketing to further its authenticity and create meaningful relationships with the coveted millennial generation.



Cause marketing occurs when a brand links itself to a philanthropic or social cause in order to mutually benefit itself and the cause it chooses to support. Due to the increase of social activism in the past few years, cause marketing has become a necessary component to every brand’s overall marketing strategy, especially when it comes to millennials.

As discussed in the opening blog piece of Take It From A Millennial, one of the five main characteristics of a millennial is empathy. What makes me most proud about being giphy (15)a part of this generation is that we care. We are constantly getting involved in causes and subjects that matter to us, and our wallets follow. According to Adweek, 49% of millennials claim to make an effort to purchase from brands that align with causes they care about, in contrast to 34% of Gen Xers and 13% of Boomers.

In the past, a simple charitable donation would have been enough for a brand to show its philanthropic side and keep consumers happy. However, millennials are not easily satisfied and are asking brands for so much more than that. As a result, we are responsible for the major changes within cause marketing. This not only shows that brands have to get more involved but also shows the great impact Millennials have on today’s marketing practices.



The first order of business is of course to choose your cause. The most important aspect of choosing the right cause is that the cause fits your brand. For example, a steak restaurant may choose world hunger, but not animal rights. A high-end pet store may choose animal rights, but not world hunger. This also helps increase the chances that your audience will embrace the cause you choose. If your brand is a makeup brand and you choose to support women’s rights over prostate cancer, your audience will feel more connected to your cause.

Nevertheless, we are talking about tumblr_inline_ol5fwisbxe1so8bpc_500millennials here, and being that there are nearly 75 million of us in the United States, there is an even larger variety of issues that we can connect with. Get creative when choosing your cause. I’m not saying that you should come up with something new like increasing awareness for horse hair loss, but still choose something that not all your competitors are sponsoring. Give millennials an opportunity to get involved with a cause that they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to get involved with.

Last week, American Greetings launched a new cause marketing campaign called #GiveMeaning that targets millennials. They began the campaign by releasing a video centered around creating awareness about infertility and the struggles that come along with it. This cause was an excellent choice for American Greetings for three reasons. First off, it allows consumers to open their minds to the potential uses of greeting cards and use them for the daily struggles that surround us, and increase sales as a result. The video is also a great fit for the brand because it evokes emotions and human connection, which is the very purpose of American Greetings. Finally, it spreads awareness about a cause that doesn’t get much attention otherwise. It makes American Greetings stand out from the rest and create real connections with millennials.

On the other hand, there have been brands that have completely chosen the wrong causes. KFC’s Buckets for a Cure was a campaign that donated 50 cents to breast cancer research for each bucket of fried chicken sold. This was a poor choice because, well, how in the world is fried chicken related to cancer? Fried chicken only leads to obesity, which is a leading risk of breast cancer.(1) This campaign was ridiculed on social media and hurt KFC’s PR efforts more than it helped them.



After you’ve chosen your cause, you have to choose exactly how to implement the cause of your choice into your marketing strategy. There are three ways to do so:

  1. Donate a portion of your revenue to the cause of your choice.
  2. Integrate the cause into your business purpose. (TOMS donating shoes)
  3. Promote awareness through an advertising campaign.

The choices above are not mutually exclusive. Your brand may participate in one, two, or even all three of them. The more involved your brand is with its cause, the more Millennials will positively associate your brand with the cause.

Still, regardless of the option(s) you may choose,giphy (10) you have to do more than just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk. Your entire brand must be in line with what you are supporting. For example, if you choose to support the environment, your entire brand must follow this cause from top to bottom. You may have to implement new recycling policies, try to work using less paper, purchase new renewable energy resources to power offices, etc. Even employees must become ambassadors of the cause. You cannot have a person associated with your brand bad-mouthing environmental issues on social media because it will come back to haunt you.



Yup. Implementing cause marketing is not rocket giphy (16)science. Not only are you bound to have great results with millennials, you will be helping out with a great cause no matter what you choose, being that you stay away from horse hair loss. Make sure you keep your brand authenticity and don’t stray away from who you are.



Written by: Micaela Valderrama

July 21, 2017

Compass Marketing & Consulting


(1)  Renehan AG, Tyson M, Egger M, Heller RF, Zwahlen M. Body-mass index and incidence of cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. Lancet 2008; 371(9612):569-578.