Money Doesn’t Buy Customers

Everybody knows the phrase ‘Money doesn’t buy happiness’. Yet most companies across the world still live by a monetary mantra. Seems strange? If you want your brand to represent happiness – why are you chasing after money?

social responsibility

I have been hooked up to the live stream from Advertising Week in New York for the last couple of hours watching all number of exciting and innovative speakers talk about overcoming promotional difficulties. But there has been one phrase that stands out above the rest.

In a presentation about the rising effectiveness of cause-related marketing, the following statistic was put forward. 91% of consumers would change their product if an alternative of a similar price and quality supported a good cause.91% is not a number to be sneezed at and with the rising number of socially-conscious businesses it provides a great opportunity to effect meaningful change in consumers’ behaviour.

This number will certainly change depending on the product category and the related brand loyalty. There will be some categories where consumers feel very low involvement with their product purchases and are hence more likely to change if a conscionable offer arose. And, at the same time, there are some categories where consumers are highly invested in their product choices and would need a bit of convincing. But there are plenty of examples where socially-conscious competitors are entering the marketplace and finding enormous followings.

My favourite example is Thank you. Just looking at their bottled water, price-wise their offer is middle of the road. There are more expensive bottles of water and there are cheaper options. However, there has been a huge movement towards adopting this product from the existing water market due to the social implications of the purchase. Through clever initiatives such as being able to track the impact of your purchase, consumers are feeling more engaged and more powerful with the purchasing of an everyday product.

There is just one issue. Every marketer who watched this presentation will be thinking ‘Well, I will just add a socially-responsible component to my brand’. Right? Wrong.

Consumers are much savvier today. They have been empowered by the internet and have the information search skills to uncover any hidden catches or token associations used to persuade them to engage. This general scepticism is an interesting concept to overcome for companies who are truly socially-responsible at their core because it has introduced another influencer into the mix.

Within the marketing research there are a number of influencers. Professionals. Friends. Family. Brands. Society. Etc. Etc. Etc. The list goes on and on. But there is one that is often forgotten and is of incredible importance when it comes to purchasing socially-responsible products.

Your inner voice.

Yes, that little angel and devil sitting on your shoulder. Everybody has those conversations with themselves about the morality of their actions and unfortunately the inner voice isn’t quite as easy to convince as the other influencers. In order for the consumer to get the most value out of a socially-responsible choice, the critical inner voice must be satisfied that the company is not trying to con their consumers with a short-term association.

As a marketer, how do you get to this inner voice?

Well, it’s not easy. The inner voice influencer will always be wary of this marketing tricks and it takes a long-term commitment to cause-related marketing which becomes embedded in the brand’s story – something which a short-term association cannot achieve.

This inner voice is an incredibly powerful ally and possibly a company’s worst enemy when it comes to creating increased socially-responsible value for consumers. In essence, it is the last failsafe to keep the advertisers honest!