Cause for Thought

The Development of Cause Related Marketing in the UK

Catherine Sermon, Business in the Community

Vicky Mirfin
 and 
Alison Mawhinney, Research International

Introduction

In 1999, The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, presented an award to the Nambarrie Tea Company, a small company employing just 35 people, based in Northern Ireland. The award was the Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing Award which the Nambarrie Tea Company received in recognition of the success of their Cause Related Marketing partnership with a leading Northern Ireland charity, Action Cancer.

In 1998, the partnership with Nambarrie during the charitys annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month Campaign, enabled Action Cancer to raise double their usual funds, increase awareness of the charity and their work and, as a result, see a significant increase in the number of women attending their screening clinics. These results were made possible through a variety of solutions, the main element of which was the sale of specially designed packs of Nambarrie tea offering a donation to Action Cancer with each pack sold.

Through the programme, the Nambarrie Tea Company have played an important role in helping to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in Northern Ireland, currently the highest in the world, through early detection. From a business point of view, the Cause Related Marketing programme enabled Nambarrie to raise awareness and improve perceptions of its brand amongst its target audience, as well as increase brand appeal by more than 100% among those who were aware of the Breast Cancer Campaign.

The previous year, in 1998, the same award was won by TESCO, the supermarket giant, in recognition of the success of their Cause Related Marketing programme Computers for Schools and presented to them by HRH The Prince of Wales.

Over the past four years, TESCO Computers for Schools has contributed over 50 million worth of computers and IT equipment to schools in the UK, as well as 100,000 worth of free IT training for teachers. Started in 1992, TESCO Computers for Schools is an annual voucher redemption Cause Related Marketing promotion, whereby customers receive a voucher for every 10 spent in-store or on petrol. Customers collect these tokens and donate them to local schools, who can redeem them for computers and other ICT equipment.

Through this scheme TESCO are undoubtedly having a significant and lasting impact on ICT literacy among school leavers. From a business point of view, TESCO have not only enhanced their corporate profile in the community, but have achieved a number of other business benefits including recognition as an innovative retailer, increased customer loyalty and increased sales.

The Nambarrie Tea Company and TESCO case studies are examples of best practice in the field but are only two of a number of Cause Related Marketing programmes which have taken place in the UK. Together, these programmes have provided many millions of pounds worth of additional funds, resources and profile to a diverse range of causes and charities by unlocking corporate marketing budgets.

Although the two companies highlighted above are very different, they illustrate how Cause Related Marketing is increasingly being adopted by a wide spectrum of businesses who see its potential to address social issues while at the same time addressing business marketing objectives.

Business in the Community, who have been at the forefront of furthering the practice of Cause Related Marketing in the UK, have defined Cause Related Marketing as 'a commercial activity by which businesses and charities or causes form a partnership with each other to market an image, product or service for mutual benefit' (Business in the Community, 1998)

Although 1998 was the first year in which Business in the Community presented the Cause Related Marketing Award, Cause Related Marketing is not a new phenomenon and has, in fact, been steadily growing in the UK over the last five years. The Award only succeeded in further raising the profile of a marketing practice that had already gained much acceptance among the business community as a legitimate part of the marketing mix.

The partnership between Business in the Community and Research International has been key in developing Cause Related Marketing in the UK for business, charities and agencies alike. The fruit of this partnership, which has been forged and developed over the last five years, has demonstrated how the combination of a successful client/agency partnership and an integrated and flexible strategy of research can be used to produce tangible benefits to an evolving marketing discipline.

This paper seeks to explain the nature of the client/agency relationship which exists and to outline the research which has been carried out. In so doing, it demonstrates how these two factors have combined to enable the Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing Campaign to be successful.

The start of the Campaign and the need for research

In 1995 the Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing Campaign was established by Sue Adkins with sponsorship from Sir Dominic Cadbury, Cadbury Schweppes, BT, Cadbury Ltd, Countrywide Porter Novelli, Lever Brothers Ltd, NatWest, Research International (UK) Ltd, TESCO PLC and The Marketing Society.

Cause Related Marketing was not a new concept for businesses and charities at this time. Early examples of Cause Related Marketing programmes date back to the last century3 and more recently to 1983, when American Express ran a national marketing sales promotion linked to the Restoration of the Statue of Liberty Project and apparently coined the phrase. From the outset, the aim was to bring tangible benefits to the wider community and, through doing so, to bring benefits to the business.

It was, however, a concept not widely used or understood in the UK, although a few visionary companies, like Cadbury Ltd were beginning to recognise the mutual opportunities and benefits Cause Related Marketing offered and were demonstrating this through partnerships and programmes such as the Cadbury Strollerthon with Save the Children.

The purpose of the Campaign established by Business in the Community, therefore, was to understand what Cause Related Marketing was, to define it and to define its role within the marketing mix. It was also important for the Campaign to establish whether this marketing approach which had proved so effective in the States would cross the Atlantic successfully and whether the concept of charities and causes working together in such a high profile way would be accepted by consumers, and indeed businesses, in the UK.

If there was evidence that Cause Related Marketing could enjoy widespread success in the UK, the Campaigns further aim would be to generate awareness and understanding of Cause Related Marketing, promoting a greater quality and number of programmes.

These aims clearly reflected the wider mission of Business in the Community, a non-profit making organisation, to 'inspire business to increase the quality and extent of their contribution to social and economic regeneration by making corporate social responsibility an essential part of business excellence. (Business in the Community)

Sue Adkins, Director of Cause Related Marketing was appointed to set up the Cause Related Marketing Campaign in 1995. Coming from a commercial marketing background Sue spent her first 6 months at Business in the Community examining existing research available in the UK, the USA and around the world in order to establish an understanding of the market as it stood at that time. This initial desk research uncovered consumer research in the USA4 but a distinct lack of information in the UK. A few relevant reports, one by NCH Action for Children and one by Dragon International/Diagnostics touched on the subject area, however there was very little information about corporate or consumer attitudes towards Cause Related Marketing in the UK.

It was clear, therefore, that if Business in the Community were to successfully promote a greater quality and volume of programmes and to build a persuasive case for Cause Related Marketing which they could present to businesses, a greater depth of understanding and information was vital. It would be necessary to understand whether Cause Related Marketing would make a difference to businesses consumers and the wider community and if so, how.

From this assessment it would then be key to gauge business understanding of Cause Related Marketing, what it was, whether they were doing it, why they were doing it, and whether they had identified any differences and any positive impacts on their business as a result of Cause Related Marketing activity. It was also clear that in order to convince businesses to consider this concept they needed to know whether Cause Related Marketing would impact on consumer perceptions of companies and their buying habits, Anecdotes of other successful programmes were engaging, but hard evidence was required to persuade businesses of the potential benefits,

With this in mind and having done a gap analysis of the information available, it was identified that a thorough programme of primary research for the Campaign was needed, before it would be possible to establish Cause Related Marketing as a serious part of the marketing mix.

The establishment of the partnership

The Cause Related Marketing Campaign, as previously mentioned, was supported by a number of companies who were members of Business in the Community. Research International became one (.)f those supporters, with the backing and encouragement of Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP, of which Research International is a subsidiary. Martin Sorrell was keen to see his companies become involved following a personal introduction to and encounter with some of the work of Business in the Community.

With support at the most senior levels, therefore, the relationship was born. Peter Hayes, then Chairman of Research International (UK) Ltd was recruited to the Cause Related Marketing Campaign Leadership Team and Ruth McNeil, Deputy Managing Director of a Research International business unit, joined the Cause Related Marketing Campaign Task Force. Discussions ensued and an initial programme of research was developed, which centred on considering corporate and consumer attitudes towards Cause Related Marketing. All of the executive time from Research International was donated on a pro bono basis, with Business in the Community paying the external costs only and this is the basis on which the partnership has continued to operate.

As the Campaign and research needs developed, so did the relationship, with the partners utilising different strengths, resources and abilities to maximise each research project undertaken. Whilst the relationship is driven by senior level commitment, input and support is provided at a variety of levels throughout the organisations.

The partnership has existed now for the past five years. It has been characterised by its longevity, its openness and the opportunities that it affords both parties. There is no legal agreement or contract between Business in the Community and Research International and each party remains in the partnership of their own free will. The fact that the partnership has survived and flourished pays tribute to its mutual success.

How market research has contributed to the success of the Campaign

This section forms the crux of the paper, focusing on how market research has been used so successfully to drive the development of the Cause Related Marketing Campaign in the UK and, hence, the growth of Cause Related Marketing itself in the UK.

It seems appropriate to start and end this section with quotes from Sir Dominic Cadbury, Chairman of Cadbury Schweppes. As the original Chairman of the Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing Leadership Team and an early proponent of Cause Related Marketing, he has been well placed to observe the progress of the Campaign since 1995.

'The objective of the Business in the Community Campaign is to generate awareness and understanding of Cause Related Marketing promoting a greater quality, extent and excellence of programmes... In the first four years (of the campaign) the focus has been on defining and scoping Cause Related Marketing and beginning to establish Cause Related Marketing as a legitimate pan of the marketing, corporate affairs, community affairs and corporate fundraising mix'. (Sir Dominic Cadbury, 1999)

For Business in the Community, the primary research provided by Research International has been, and continues to be, a cornerstone of the Cause Related Marketing Campaign. The research has played an important role in helping the Campaign achieve all of the objectives outlined above.

The research represents a key foundation because it gives Business in the Community the credibility to campaign on the subject. Overall the research that has been conducted through this relationship has enabled Business in the Community to build the business case necessary for engaging interest amongst corporates and charities and place Cause Related Marketing firmly onto marketing and fundraising agendas.

The presentation of the research findings represents a key element of Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing Campaign events (which have been attended by over 1,500 delegates in the past 4 years). These seminars, conferences and publications, amongst other objectives, provide a valuable source of income to fund the Campaign.

Critically, the findings from each piece of research undertaken by Business in the Community and Research International have also succeeded in generating considerable interest in Cause Related Marketing and the Cause Related Marketing Campaign. This interest has come from all quarters from businesses, charities, educational and representative bodies, government and the media and has been both national and international in its scope. All of this has served to raise awareness of Cause Related Marketing.

There is no doubt that over the past few years of the Campaign, the actual amount of Cause Related Marketing activity in the UK has grown enormously one indication of the success of the Campaign. Research has played an important role in monitoring these changes over time. The Corporate Survey 116 conducted in 1998 shows widespread corporate awareness of and involvement in Cause Related Marketing, supporting the Cause Related Marketing Campaigns objectives. It also showed that 73% of respondents (198 marketing directors, 148 chief executives/ managing directors and 107 community affairs directors from many of the UKs largest companies) reported some investment in Cause Related Marketing.

The number, visibility and scale of programmes continues to grow. The Corporate Survey B findings also indicated that the amount marketing and community affairs directors are devoting to Cause Related Marketing had grown since 1996 and the predictions from businesses were for further growth.

The research, publications, events and other services the Cause Related Marketing Campaign offers, inspires businesses, charities and agencies to get involved in Cause Related Marketing, according to feedback received by Business in the Community. The Cause Related Marketing Campaign has therefore contributed to increasing the extent of Cause Related Marketing programmes.

The work of the Campaign and the research have enabled Business in the Community to establish Cause Related Marketing as a legitimate part of the marketing mix in the UK. Work for which, Business in the Community is internationally recognised. For charities as well, the work of the Campaign has helped Cause Related Marketing become an element of the fundraising mix as greater access to corporate marketing budgets has become possible. Beyond that, the findings of the research constantly reinforce the overall mission of Business in the Community to encourage corporate social responsibility.

The research findings have helped Business in the Community to promote best practice Cause Related Marketing. In particular this provided valuable input in the development of the Cause Related Marketing Guidelines Towards Excellence in 1998. These Guidelines, which were produced by Business in the Community after a consultative process, help protect the quality and integrity of partnerships between businesses and charities or causes. The Guidelines are designed to help anyone involved or considering Cause Related Marketing. If a Cause Related Marketing programme goes wrong, it can be disastrous, both in terms of lost resources and damaged reputations. These Guidelines highlight the Key Principles and Processes that are involved in excellent Cause Related Marketing. Research conducted at the1999 Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing annual conference revealed that 100% of the delegates who had used the Guidelines had found them helpful.

By identifying trends that need to be addressed, the research helps to provide direction for the future work of the Campaign. Equally, the ongoing programme of research continues to reinforce the Cause Related Marketing Campaigns positioning as the leading source of information on Cause Related Marketing.

In addition, the research carried out in the UK is now providing comparative data to other countries, particularly in Europe, who are looking to develop Cause Related Marketing in their countries. In many cases, the research itself is also being used as a template for design of further studies round the world.

Finally, the comment below, summarises the success of the Cause Related Marketing Campaign over its first four years of existence so far. It pays tribute to the head of the Campaign, Sue Adkins, and highlights the importance that research and evidence has had in bringing Cause Related Marketing to the attention of businesses in the UK.

'Almost four years ago when we founded the Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing Campaign relatively little was known about Cause Related Marketing. There was no clear definition, poor appreciation and little, if any, research or evidence as to Its potential. Sue Adkins, with the support of Business in the Community and the Cause Related Marketing Leadership Team has in my view been responsible fir redressing this situation. She has defined Cause Related Marketing in the UK. She has built the business case for Cause Related Marketing for the benefit of both business and the wider community and has In fact been a leading campaigner in establishing Cause Related Marketing as a legitimate part of the marketing mix.' (Sir Dominic Cadbury, 1999)

There are now increasingly further sources of information on Cause Related Marketing, with other agencies springing up to help companies and charities in this field but, for the present, Business in the Community continues to play a key role in promoting Cause Related Marketing programmes and to provide regular, comprehensive UK research information that is made available in the public domain.

The Research Programme

Having outlined the success of the Cause Related Marketing Campaign, it is important to gain an overview of the research itself and the way it has been used as an integral part of the Campaign.

Prior to the initial piece of research commissioned by Business in the Community Campaign in 1996, previous research had demonstrated that:

  • There was a growing expectation by consumers and acceptance by companies that companies have an intrinsic role to play in the community, but consumers do not expect companies to do something for nothing.
  • Most British adult consumers would rather buy their products and services from companies with a strong record of community involvement.
  • Those who had run a Cause Related Marketing programme show a high level of satisfaction and a desire to run a similar scheme again.

However, there had been no formal industry tracking of spending against Cause Related Marketing and no clear understanding of consumer views. Initially, therefore, Business in the Community and Research International felt it was vital to gain a foundation of knowledge covering these two particular areas.

The research strategy, therefore, began with a dual initiative to look at both the corporate and consumer response. The research was needed to identify current behaviour amongst consumers and businesses, as well as to understand attitudes towards and intentions of future behaviour in relation to Cause Related Marketing.

Corporate Survey (1996) Quantitative corporate survey There were two overriding objectives for this initial survey:

  • To quantify the level of spend on Cause Related Marketing, to understand which corporate budget this expenditure comes from and who within the organisation is responsible for this spending.
  • To understand the broad types of Cause Related Marketing activity being run by companies, the objectives set for these, whether the programmes are meeting these objectives and how they are being measured.

It was also intended that this study would form a benchmark, which could be repeated over time to enable comparisons to be made and trends to be identified.

The study was carried out as a quantitative postal survey amongst Chief Executives, Marketing Directors and Community Affairs Directors of Business in the Community member companies and Per Cent Club member companies in a wide variety of industry sectors. Response was encouraged by the inclusion of a personalised letter from Sir Dominic Cadhury, the then Chairman of the Cause Related Marketing Leadership Team, 250 questionnaires were completed and returned which represented a response rate of 55% from the 456 questionnaires originally despatched.

The results of this study provided Business in the Community with key information, which enabled them to move forward with the Campaign in a meaningful and targeted way. It highlighted a debate amongst businesses about the exact definition of Cause Related Marketing and some confusion about its relation to more general Corporate Community Involvement or Commercial Sponsorship. It was clear there was no one job function within businesses responsible for Cause Related Marketing and that those companies who had set clear objectives for Cause Related Marketing programmes had also allocated higher budgets.

It also, encouragingly, highlighted a general opinion that there would be an increase in the amount of time invested in Cause Related Marketing in the near future by businesses and an eagerness and enthusiasm to learn more about the use of this business tool to maximum benefit.

Following this initial research, therefore, Business in the Community were set on a path of improving the general understanding amongst corporates of Cause Related Marketing in order to encourage a greater share of their marketing/community affairs budget to be allocated for its use.

THE WINNING GAME (1996) Quantitative consumer research Before Business in the Community could move forward with its Campaign, not only was it important for them to gain an understanding of the corporate response to Cause Related Marketing, but equally the consumer response to it.

This survey, therefore, was established to understand consumers views on the extent to which business should take responsibility for addressing social issues, to understand which causes consumers were concerned about and which they thought were suitable for business to become involved in and to understand what factors affect consumers decision to purchase a product or service and how Cause Related Marketing can affect this decision.

A face to face, quantitative interview was considered the most effective method for this study using BMRB Internationals weekly Access omnibus survey. In-home interviews were carried out using CAPI amongst 1,053 adults aged 15+, living in Great Britain. A form of random local sampling was used and the data weighted to ensure that demographic profiles matched those of the population of adults in Great Britain aged 15 or over.

This study was the first large scale consumer survey on the subject of Cause Related Marketing in the UK and, as a result, generated a considerable amount of media interest in trade and mainstream press, thus raising awareness of the subject amongst a wide audience.

The survey provided clear confirmation of the potential of Cause Related Marketing in the UK. Comparison with similar findings from a study in the US confirmed that UK consumers were not far behind the US in terms of their attitudes and allayed businesses concerns that UK consumers would not be as positive about Cause Related Marketing as a concept.

Findings from the survey not only produced fascinating results, but also provided key information that could be used by the Campaign to leverage corporate involvement and encourage business participation. The core response from consumers, that they saw community involvement as obligatory for a business and that they would change their buying habits for products linked with a cause, gave Business in the Community a base from which to take the case to businesses. It also provided business people with key information which was needed to enable them to sell the concept on further in their organisations.

Furthermore, the disparity between causes that mattered to consumers and those that were supported by business and the clear need for effective and appropriate communication were findings which sewed to provide vital information from the consumer on how to develop successful Cause Related Marketing programmes.

THE GAME PLAN (1997)

Qualitative consumer research

As Business in the Communitys needs evolved from that of putting together a business case based solely on facts and figures, to providing more detailed, diagnostic insight into how consumers interacted with Cause Related Marketing programmes, the team at Research International adapted their methodology accordingly.

It was felt that at this stage of the Campaign, qualitative research was needed to add flesh to the bones of the quantitative consumer study carried out during the previous year. Primarily the next stage of the research was designed to identify the motivational factors that lay behind consumer decisionmaking when presented with a Cause Related Marketing proposition.

Two different qualitative methods were used for this survey:

Firstly, 100 shoppers were observed and interviewed in person at a Tesco store in Essex. They were selected on the basis of having chosen any item from one of a number of ranges which contained Cause Related Marketing products. The interviews took the form of a free-flowing qualitative discussion, with a small number of quantitative questions.

Secondly, 6 focus groups, each with up to 8 respondents aged between 18 to 55, were carried out in London, Leeds and Bristol. Respondents were recruited in equal proportions of those who were categorised as either ethical or standard.

Once again, the results of the survey provided Business in the Community with important diagnostic information explaining the consumer viewpoint and illustrating their views as to what attractive Cause Related Marketing programmes would look like and the components consumers felt should be integral within these.

The findings from this research enabled Business in the Community to go to businesses with richer, anecdotal evidence and verbatim comments to convey consumer acceptance of Cause Related Marketing. This acceptance was based on exposure to actual examples of Cause Related Marketing programmes either in-store or via concept hoards in focus groups rather than an acceptance of Cause Related Marketing in theory.

It also provided evidence on how consumers were interacting with the Cause Related Marketing promotions in a retail environment and provided cleat guidance as to the need for improved on-pack promotion of the Cause Related Marketing link.

The combination of these messages provided businesses with reassurance that it was acceptable to promote Cause Related Marketing programmes more strongly with the result that great improvements have been made in the branding of such Cause Related Marketing programmes.

In the absence of any guidelines for practitioners involved or getting involved in Cause Related Marketing the Campaign identified that it was also necessary to address the issue of maintaining the quality of Cause Related Marketing programmes as well as trying increase the quantity. Case studies in the USA had demonstrated how potentially damaging Cause Related Marketing could be if not done properly. On this basis the Campaign set about developing best practice Guidelines in order to protect all parties involved in Cause Related Marketing programmes. Input was sought from representatives of charities, businesses, industry and regulatory bodies, and agencies and consultants to assist in the defining Guidelines for Cause Related Marketing. The qualitative consumer research also provided vital information in outlining the standards that consumers were expecting from businesses involved in this type of programme and provided an important background to the development of The Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing Guidelines.

The Corporate Survey II (1998), an extension of the original Corporate Survey and The Ultimate Win Win Win (1999), an extension of The Winning Game Survey were largely repeat surveys to establish the extent to which corporate and consumer views and behaviour were changing as the Campaign had progressed since the benchmark studies in 1996.

The Corporate Survey II showed that acceptance of Cause Related Marketing had spread throughout a wide spectrum of businesses of various sizes and from different sectors. Amongst the companies who had originally been sampled, there was evidence that the amount of spend on Cause Related Marketing had grown since 1996. More than anything, the survey provided reassurance that Cause Related Marketing still had widespread acceptance and enormous potential amongst UK businesses.

The Ultimate Win Win Win consumer survey, in particular, however, highlighted a clear trend in consumer acceptance of Cause Related Marketing Campaigns since 1996. People were significantly more likely to say that it was acceptable for a company to involve a cause or charity in its marketing (74%) and that Cause Related Marketing was a good way to help Society. Differences had also emerged between sub-groups which had not been apparent in the benchmark study with women significantly more likely to be positive about the Cause Related Marketing and the impact it would have on the image they had of a company. Most importantly, however, there was a significant increase in the proportion of women who said they had bought a product or service in the last year because it was associated with a charity or cause actual evidence that Cause Related Marketing was impacting on womens purchase behaviour.

OPPORTUNITY OR EXPLOITATION? (1999)

Quantitative and qualitative charity research

Having successfully undertaken the research amongst businesses and consumers which was viewed as vital during the initial stages of the Campaign, it was felt that research was also required to understand the attitudes and issues around Cause Related Marketing for charities often a key partner in a Cause Related Marketing programme.

A dual approach of both quantitative and qualitative research was used for this:

  • Taking advantage of a captive audience, 69 face to face interviews were conducted at Business in the Communitys Charity Conference using hand held palmtop computers. The use of such equipment also enabled the production of topline research results to be announced to the conference delegates at the end of the day.
  • This was supported by five focus group discussions with participants from a wide variety of charities, both in terms of size and cause area.

Once again, the hank of information generated provided further back up for the Campaign. Charities on the whole were very positive about Cause Related Marketing and keen to work with businesses for mutual benefit. They were particularly eloquent, however, about the potential practical pitfalls of setting up a Cause Related Marketing programme and outlined some useful areas for consideration. The findings from this research provided useful feedback for Business in the Community, particularly in relation to promoting quality of Cause Related Marketing programmes.

This concludes the summary of the research carried out to date and the impact it has had on the success of the Cause Related Marketing Campaign. Plans are underway for a strategic piece of research on Cause Related Marketing to provide further insight into the field in 2000.

How the partnership has contributed to the success of the Campaign

The traditional approach of a research buyer is to be wary of putting all research through just one or a limited number of agencies.  However, that is exactly what the Cause Related Marketing Campaign at Business in the Community has done for the last five years, putting all of its research eggs in to Research.

Internationals basket. Far from causing problems, this has, in fact, brought huge benefits to the process. A hot issue at the moment for many companies is knowledge management and this is particularly true in the field of market research. Despite the best efforts of client researchers, duplication of research takes place and/or the findings from pieces of relevant research are not fully utilised. However, because the relationship between Business in the Community and Research International has been maintained consistently and exclusively over the last five years, both parties are able to bring to each meeting, each new piece of research and each stage of analysis and report writing a comprehensive knowledge of exactly what questions have been asked before, what methodology was used, what the results and conclusions were and where the new information fits into the overall picture.

Not only does this result in the avoidance of duplication, but it also allows previous learning to be carried forward in a constructive way. Each report and presentation is able to take earlier findings and fuse them with new findings in a way that continues to build the picture and the business case for Cause Related Marketing, while integrating all sources of information.

Another pressing issue in the market research industry is that of getting to know the clients business better In research carried out for Research magazine in 1999, a number of senior research buyers in the UK were asked what most influenced their perceptions of the value for money that they received from the research agencies that they used. The most important attribute, by a significant amount, was adding value in report and presentations. Tellingly, that was also one of the attributes on which research agencies were perceived to perform the worst.

So often, however well-read and experienced a researcher is, their ability to be useful and add value to a client will rest on the extent to which the client has shared information with them and set the research in the context of the business issues. In many instances, due to time pressures and the demands of maintaining a number of agency relationships, agencies are not as well informed about client issues as they could be. In contrast, the longevity and nature of the partnership between Business in the Community and Research International has enabled the agency researchers to fully get to grips with the issues involved and add value to the process in a number of ways. And in a step which goes beyond what would be possible in a standard client/agency relationship, members of Research International also play a part in the decision-making process and direction of the Cause Related Marketing Campaign, through involvement in the Leadership Team and Task Force.

Other ways in which Research International is able to add value are various. The nature of the partnership has resulted in researchers who are close enough to the issues to be able to make research design a much smoother process than it might otherwise be. Research Internationals recommendations for research design and methodological approach demonstrate an understanding of Business in the Communitys requirements, both in terms of budget and also in effectively utilising resources of both organisations most effectively.

In sum, the partnership has ensured no time is wasted in re-briefing, no information is lost between the cracks and each piece of research is made to work as hard and efficiently as possible, obtaining the best value for Business in the Community.

Research International has also been able to add value by using their experience of researching marketing issues to interpret and set in context the findings of the Cause Related Marketing research.

An example of this is in the area of understanding Cause Related Marketings impact on brand equity. From the research studies that Research International has carried out internationally, using their brand management technique Equity Engine they had found that it is the emotional aspects of branding that increasingly provide discrimination and influence customer preference rather than the functional performance elements. On average, across all categories, emotional closeness or affinity to the brand had been found to account for over half of the overall brand equity, compared to functional performance aspects.

From the Business in the Community research carried out amongst consumers, it was clear that it is precisely this emotional affinity aspect of a brand that Cause Related Marketing is best placed to impact on.

By setting the Business in the Community findings in the context of this quantitative benchmark data on branding, Research International was able to add even more weight to the findings and highlight the key points. It was clear that, in the context of developing a successful Cause Related Marketing programme, the challenge lay with a business or a charity to understand what made their brand tick and to identify a partnership with a business or charity/cause that would complement and reinforce their brand values or help them to address an aspect of emotional affinity where they were vulnerable.

Business in the Community is in the position of being able to use the breadth of research experience that Research International is able to offer as an agency. Research International enjoys the benefit of using all their research skills to cover both qualitative and quantitative techniques, business and consumer research to offer the most integrated and effective approach for the Cause Related Marketing Campaign.

As well as research expertise, Research International is able to provide fieldwork resources, such as the palmtop computers that have been used to conduct interviews at recent Business in the Community Cause Related Marketing conferences.

Being part of the larger, WPP-owned, Kantar group of market research agencies, Research International has also been able to facilitate the use of resources of the sister organisations. An example of this is the fact that the fieldwork for the two large-scale quantitative surveys conducted for Business in the Community were carried out by BMRB Access Omnibus.

A particularly strong aspect of the partnership is its flexibility. The roles and responsibilities of each company vary from project to project and this enables both partners to best use their skills and resources. The nature of the partnership has changed considerably since the early days of the Campaign. Initially, the relationship between Research International and Business in the Community was, in many ways, a fairly typical client/research relationship. Research International designed, conducted, analysed and reported the research on behalf of Business in the Community. This was particularly true of the first two studies that were conducted. However, with the third study qualitative focus groups and in-store interviewing with consumers Business in the Community and Research International pooled expertise and resource to enable the research to be conducted as efficiently as possible. Members of the team at Business in the Community were briefed and assisted with in-store interviewing alongside members of the Research International team. A member of the Business in the Community team also carried out two of the focus groups and analysis was carried out jointly under Research Internationals supervision.

More recently, when the initial corporate and consumer surveys were repeated, the partnership had moved even further towards Research International just providing consultancy and advice on the design of the questionnaire, the research methodology and the analysis of the data. Whilst Research International still leads on conducting the research and providing valuable input on interpreting research findings, the focus of the partnership is now on empowering Business in the Community to run repeat projects themselves by sharing information, experience and expertise.

The principles that have underpinned the successful partnership

Although, as demonstrated, there have been clear practical benefits to the partnership, what has truly underpinned the success of the relationship have been the principles that each party has adhered to. Business in the Community have outlined as part of their Cause Related Marketing guidelines a set of principles which they believe are key to a successful business/charity partnership. These have been identified through some of the clear messages arising out of the research and also through their experience working with businesses, not-for-profit organisations and agencies in this arena. These principles, however, can also be used to accurately describe the nature of the partnership between Research International and Business in the Community:

Integrity

'Integrity is about behaving honestly and ethically and means adherence to moral principles.'

In the context of this partnership, integrity means honesty in relation to our financial arrangements. Research International have always worked on the basis of charging Business in the Community, if at all, at cost only, with executive time donated for free. It is accepted and trusted that this is what happens and that the charges passed on are as low as they can be to cover out of pocket costs.

Transparency

'Transparency informing, planning, communicating and implementing the partnership is fundamental. We must be honest with ourselves and open with our partners about all aspects of the organisation, good and bad. A relationship founded on evasion, half-truths or deceit will not prosper '

This is one of the strongest aspects of the partnership. There exists complete openness between both parties because no one partner holds the balance of power.

Mutual Respect

If an organisation could achieve its objectives as effectively without a partnet clearly it would do so. Conversely, lfan organisation seeks a partner to enable it to achieve its objectives, by definition the partner has intrinsic value. This value and the values of the partner therefore need to be appreciated and respected.' 

We bring to the partnership different skills sets and experience and respect each other for that. Research International admires the drive and vision of Business in the Community, as well as their creativity and ability to take others along with them. From Business in the Communitys perspective, Research International have brought to the partnership the detailed research expertise, an innovative approach to solving the research problems, commitment and professionalism.

Partnership

'Partnership implies a joint venture in which each side shares the risks and the rewards.'

We not only share the risks and the rewards, but we share the work! Wherever possible, researchers from Research International work alongside the Cause Related Marketing team or Business in the Community personnel so that research is completed. We share facilities and equipment and resources, For a recent postal research survey, the analysis was carried out jointly Research International were able to direct the analysis whilst Business in the Community was able to draw attention to the exact issues for which answers were needed, Research International support Business in the Communitys Cause Related Marketing seminars that take place around the country and Business in the Community provides Research International with opportunities to involve their clients in some of their events, as well as sharing information with them.

Sincerity

'Our research has highlighted that people want to be convinced about the strength and depth of a Cause Related Marketing partnership'

Research International believe that, as an organisation, they have a responsibility to wider Society. By supporting Business in the Community in this way, they are in some small measure, meeting this responsibility. The commitment of both parties to the Cause Related Marketing Campaign is real and was aptly demonstrated recently, when on a Saturday morning they joined representatives from the member companies in planting a sensory garden for a school in East London for children with severe disabilities.

Mutual Benefit

'For the relationship to be sustainable there has to be benefit on both sides.'

As with any good Cause Related Marketing programme, it is important that there is mutual benefit. A relationship that relies solely on benevolence and generosity may flounder when times get tough or on the whim of individuals in the organisation. A partnership where both parties benefit is more secure. Many of the benefits have been outlined already. For Research International, involvement in the Cause Related Marketing Campaign has enabled them to be at the forefront of the development of this new area of marketing and, therefore, in a prime position to carry out research for other clients on the subject. It has provided more press coverage and PR than any other story and it has enabled Research International to raise their profile amongst senior marketing personnel. Business in the Community obviously benefits from professionally conducted research and consultancy at an affordable rate.

The partnership: Research Internationals viewpoint

This paper is primarily about the success of the partnership from the perspective of Business in the Community and the way in which research has contributed to the effectiveness of their Cause Related Marketing Campaign. However, the partnership has endured to the continuing satisfaction of Research International for a number of reasons.

The primary enduring motivation for Research Internationals participation in the Cause Related Marketing Campaign has been a genuine desire to harness the skills and resources of the organisation in a way that can ultimately bring benefit to wider Society. Market research skills, per se, are of little direct use to the general public but, in an indirect way, Research International are able to help provide evidence to encourage other businesses to recognise and act on their responsibility to Society in a way that is brings benefits to the community and the business.

In the same way that mutual benefit is a cornerstone to a successful Cause Related Marketing relationship, it has also been a further important element of Research Internationals continued involvement and one which protects it against vicissitudes of internal corporate debate.

Research Internationals involvement in the Cause Related Marketing Campaign has generated significant press coverage for the company in both national and trade marketing press in what has been probably the widest and most consistent coverage of a programme of research that the company has received.

Part of Research Internationals involvement, as a member of the Leadership Team, is to support Business in the Community by speaking about Cause Related Marketing at various forums, This has included a number of conferences around the country and has afforded the company exposure to senior marketing personnel of many of the UKs largest companies.

One message of the Campaign is that the same attention should be devoted to developing and measuring a Cause Related Marketing Campaign as to any other marketing activity of which a key component is likely to be market research. Having been involved in the Campaign from the very early stages, Research International is in a strong position to develop business in this sector having the expertise and in-depth understanding of this particular marketing approach.

The importance of research to individual Cause Related Marketing programmes: a case study

The role of market research is not solely restricted to the development, on a macro level, of the Campaign as a whole, but has also proved to be key at a micro level within individual Cause Related Marketing programmes. This can be demonstrated through looking at a specific case study.

Norwich Union First Aid Campaign

This was a brand building Cause Related Marketing partnership with St. John Ambulance offering free first aid courses via TV advertising. The TV advertisement showed a child at home drinking a harmful liquid and asked viewers what first aid they would apply in this situation and then told what would have been appropriate in the situation to save the childs life. The advertisement was branded for both Norwich Union and St. John Ambulance, providing the charity their first presence on TV. The result was a hugely successful programme, receiving a Highly Commended Award from Business in the Community in the 1998 Awards for Excellence in Cause Related Marketing.

From the outset, the Cause Related Marketing programme was founded on thorough research with other agency involvement. In developing the programme staff and external agencies generated over a hundred ideas for communicating Norwich Unions brand message No One Protects More, including the idea of offering a free first aid course offer. A national omnibus survey confirmed alarming levels of ignorance of basic first aid procedure and the need for further education and information. Further focus group research showed that the offer of free first aid courses was relevant to almost everyone. It was said to have considerable value and did not carry a sense of obligation towards Norwich Union. St John Ambulance was chosen as the partner for the delivery of the programme due to its high public recognition and good regional infrastructure. Advertising concepts promoting the offer of free first aid courses were then developed and tested through focus groups.

Post-campaign evaluation research revealed 80% awareness of the TV advertisement, compared to a usual 40% for the insurance sector, higher than ever recorded in the insurance sector. Awareness of Norwich Union also increased significantly in a market where it has traditionally proved hard to make an impact. Norwich Union scores on offers insurance that gives better protection is a caring company, has a good reputation and does more for good causes and ratings for warmth increased where the advertising was shown exactly in line with the communication objectives of the campaign. One in five said they would be more likely to consider Norwich Union as a result of having seen the TV advertisement. 25% of people recalling the advertisement agreed they would be more likely to consider Norwich Union for an insurance policy.

Of the delegates who attended the free first aid courses;

  • 60% felt more positive towards Norwich Union.
  • 94% approved of Norwich Union offering the courses

Cause Related Marketing offers great potential benefits to businesses, causes and charities if well-executed but also potential for negative publicity if not thought through properly. This case study illustrates the importance of thorough research of Cause Related Marketing programmes amongst key stakeholder groups, to ensure success.

Conclusion

This paper has shown how Business in the Communitys Cause Related Marketing Campaign has played a central role in the adoption of Cause Related Marketing as a forceful marketing discipline amongst businesses in the UK.

One of the elements that has underpinned the effectiveness of this Campaign has been the successful relationship with Research International, the fruits of which have been an extensive programme of research over the last four years.

The unique nature of the partnership, operated on a pro bono basis, has enabled Business in the Community to obtain maximum benefit from their research programme and enabled it to be conducted in a cost and time efficient manner,

The research itself has been foundational in a number of ways most notably in building evidence for UK businesses as to why they should engage in Cause Related Marketing programmes and, in the process, generating media interest and resultant increased awareness of the discipline. Latterly, the research has played an important role in shaping the future direction of the Campaign in identifying barriers to adoption and also providing diagnostic insight into the elements of a successful Cause Related Marketing programme.

Cause Related Marketing is providing businesses with an additional way to engage consumers, whilst achieving a wide range of marketing objectives and contributing to the community.

More importantly, however, the impact of UK Cause Related Marketing programmes on Society is undeniable, Marketing budgets are, on average, 7 times larger than the community affairs budgets which businesses have traditionally used to fund community programmes. Cause Related Marketing is providing many millions of pounds worth of additional funds profile and experience to charities and good causes by unlocking corporate marketing budgets to achieve social and corporate marketing objectives in tandem.

References

ADKINS, SUE. Cause Related Marketing. Who Cares Wins, published by Butterworth Heinemann (1999).

Cause Related Marketing Case Studies, Volume 1, published by Business in the Community (1997).

Cause Related Marketing Guidelines Towards Excellence, published by Business in the Community (1998).

The Corporate Survey, published by Business in the Community (1996).

The Corporate Survey II, published by Business in the Community (1998).

The Game Plan, published by Business in the Community (1997).

The Ultimate Win Win Win, published by Business in the Community (1999).

The Winning Game, published by Business in the Community (1996).

Research, (May 1998).

Research, (January 2000).