01 February 1998

A SURVEY published this month, Cause Related Marketing [Mintel, 0171 606 4533], indicates that nearly two in every three consumers are prepared to pay more for a product if their purchase helps a charity or other good cause. However, the survey also detects robust scepticism about advertisers' motives in identifying themselves with good causes - more than half the 1,500 respondents felt they were just 'cashing-in'. The most widely recognised cause-related campaign was Tesco's Computers for Schools promotion, which achieved 46% awareness. Second in line with 38% was Andrex's toilet tissue promo linked to Guide Dogs for the Blind, with third place going to Van den Bergh Foods Flora brand (33%) for its British Heart Foundation initiative. The foregoing results relate to campaigns; but the most positive corporate recognition was accorded to Camelot, the National Lottery operator, with 28% identifying the company as a supporter of good causes. Ironically, the BBC was associated with good causes by 16% - ironic because the Beeb urges others to donate; it does not do so itself! When asked if they would pay a little more for a product with cause associations, 17% said 'definitely' and 45% 'probably'. Only 11% said they would not. Sixty per cent agreed that companies were cashing-in on public sympathies with cause-related promotions. The report's author, Ed Shelton, said that media-savvy consumers 'recognise company motives for what they are'.