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More and more businesses are vying to implement a form of social responsibility into their business structure and marketing strategies. Many people, especially millennials, aim to purchase products and services from a business that supports a cause. Two different types of social support are cause marketing and corporate social responsibility. So what are the differences between the two?

What is cause marketing?

Cause marketing’s primary aim is to support a cause. A business will do this by incorporating a charitable component into their marketing strategy or sales campaign. A portion of the businesses sales or profits will go to a selected charity.

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is a business that wants to do good but directs that through a change in their operational practices. It is otherwise defined as “the voluntary action businesses take over and above legal requirements to manage and enhance economic, environmental and social impacts.” These businesses will promote products and services that are in conjunction with their brand values.

What makes them different?

CSR is in a broader category and does not necessarily participate in donating to charity. To broaden their marketing strategy, they may do fundraisers or participate in charitable sales promotions. CSR is more focused on the impact that the business directly has on the community, such as supporting community projects. Cause marketing, on the other hand, connects with a charity and makes donations to them and creates fundraisers to support the selected charity.

Cause marketing activities

Some of the activities that cause marketing partake in are as follows:

  • A business donates a percentage of sales to a charity and implements it into their marketing strategy
  • A fundraiser organized by a business for, or in aid of, a charity
  • A businesses products are promoted by a charity to their audience via email or social media
  • A business makes a donation to a selected charity when someone purchases one of their products or services

Cause marketing in action

  • Jersey Mike’s Subs – Jersey Mike’s participated in cause marketing before it was a trend. Jersey Mike’s partners with local charities and holds a “Day of Giving” every year, in which 100% of the day’s sales (not just their profits) will be donated to a selected charity. Jersey Mike’s also celebrates “Christmas in July,” in which they collect donations for Wreath Across America.
  • Brawny Towels – Brawny coupled with the Wounded Warrior Project in 2012 to assist in the creation of their “Inner Strength” campaign. The main goal was to make people aware of the cause and encourage donations, as well as increase sales of the Brawny brand.
  • HEB, a Texas grocery store chain – HEB participates in in-store marketing campaigns for existing cause campaigns, such as “Souper Bowl of Caring”. HEB did this by advertising that customers could purchase pre-bagged non-perishable food items or make cash donations at the register.