How Cause Marketing for Food Brands Can Engage Customers

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Consumer Behavior

Most consumers want the businesses they buy from to demonstrate their social and environmental awareness with actions. The Global Sustainability Study 2021 found that 85% of people from around the world are making greener purchasing decisions and are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Similarly, 70% of consumers are more likely to support a brand actively involved in a long-term cause. In this era of hyper-connectivity and increased social engagement, cause marketing for food brands is a great opportunity for you to connect with customers and give back to the communities you serve. 

Cause marketing campaigns for food brands help grow sales, but that shouldn’t be the primary reason for entering into these mutually beneficial partnerships. Modern consumers have a greater awareness of the issues they support and, with their sophisticated palates, will know if the brand is simply paying lip service to a cause just to boost revenues. Food brands and cause marketing can be a pairing made in heaven, like in the case of Kellogg’s Feeding Reading Program. This blog digs into what cause marketing for food brands means and how these campaigns can help you engage with your customers. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Cause marketing for food brands is a way to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to helping solve societal issues in communities
  • Consumers are loyal to food brands who participate in initiatives that provide a positive impact on the environment or broader society
  • Running a successful cause marketing campaign for your food brand requires building lasting relationships with authentic, not-for-profit organizations

What Is Cause Marketing for Food Brands?

The essence of cause marketing for food brands is aligning your business activities with social, environmental, or health causes. It’s when a for-profit organization creates a marketing campaign in partnership with a philanthropic or non-profit entity to increase engagement, awareness, or contributions to a specific cause. Due to the emotive nature of these campaigns, food brands need to consider what cause to support and how to frame their marketing messaging surrounding these initiatives. 

Many brands have run foul when they failed to get the messaging right or didn’t understand the underlying principles of the movement before entering into a cause marketing relationship. When done correctly, these campaigns provide positive outcomes for both the brands and the causes, like the partnership between Food Lion and Feeding America over the years. The food brand has multiple cause marketing campaigns with over 900 million meals reaching local food banks thanks to its partnerships and commitment to reducing hunger and limiting food waste. Customers can purchase specially branded retail items with a portion of the proceeds supporting Feeding America and make additional donations at the register or when shopping online. While having a direct positive impact on local communities, the brand gets a better public image and free press in the media, which translates into improved engagement and increased sales.

Cause marketing from the Food Lion brand show partnerships between multiple organizations to reduce food insecurity in communities

Image Courtesy of ABC11

4 Tips for Creating a Cause Marketing Campaign for Your Food Brand

Developing a cause marketing campaign for your food brand can be great for business but needs due consideration to be successful. Donating to various causes could lead to consumers thinking you don’t have a clear corporate strategy or brand identity. The best approach is to carefully think through the campaign’s intent and understand a cause’s foundational elements before committing to a specific strategy. Here are four tips for creating a successful cause marketing campaign for your food brand. 

1. Identify or Clarify the Brand Values of Your Company

To ensure you can develop an authentic cause marketing campaign, you have to articulate your brand’s values clearly from the start. Consumers who support certain causes will have nuanced concerns about the problem and hold firm opinions about the organizations working in the space. If you are unclear about why you are supporting a cause, the campaign may seem disingenuous or insensitive to the broader community it affects. By clarifying your brand’s ethos, you can align your corporate endeavors closely to a cause that your consumers will find authentic and thus increase the perception of value when making buying decisions.

Percentage of consumers that make buying decisions based on brand authenticity

Image Courtesy of Moengage

2. Research and Pick a Relevant Cause

When picking a cause or a non-profit organization to collaborate with, you’ll have to understand the subtleties of the issue before developing your campaign strategy. By conducting extensive research into the cause and the operations of those working in the space, you can find the best way to align your contribution for the maximum benefit of the people and places that may need your help. Whether you want to drive awareness, solicit engagement, or support broader initiatives financially, you’ll want your campaign to add tangible value to your charitable partners’ efforts.

3. Build Relationships with Your Partners

The best cause marketing campaigns are in it for the long haul. Social, environmental, and health issues won’t disappear overnight, and your partners may have to count on you for long-term support. One campaign may get you into the headlines, but to build trust with your consumers, you must demonstrate that your commitment is part of your core brand identity. Brands that want to foster customer loyalty and engagement should develop lasting partnerships with those non-profit organizations that align with their values. 

4. Take Your Commitment to the Cause Even Further

While cause marketing is a way for you to demonstrate your food brand’s awareness and commitment to the good of society, you can always do more. You don’t need to partner with non-profit organizations to effect positive changes in your immediate environment. When you recognize an opportunity to act in your capacity, you should consider taking on initiatives in-house without expecting the fanfare that comes with a cause marketing partnership. Taking this approach will further show your brand’s authenticity to consumers who may organically come across your internal campaigns and not learn about it from a media event, social media post, or news article. 

Join Other Food Brands Working for the Good of Society at SIAL America

The food industry is one area that can influence broader society with positive change. From developing sustainable practices to improving the health and nutrition of communities, food brands are at the heart of people’s daily lives. At SIAL America, you can share your food brand’s cause marketing successes and build relationships with other authentic brands working for social change, increased equity, and environmental sustainability. 

Join us at next year’s SIAL America show to learn more about cause marketing for food brands, or come to share your own experiences by registering your attendance here