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Just a Few More Days to Shop and Save the Bears

By Tom Watson on December 19, 2007No Comment

Just a Few More Days to Shop  and Save the Bears by Kate Golden

And as frantic shoppers wrestle among the holiday decorations and twinkling lights for the right gifts for their loved ones, many will seek out brands that support a cause, according to the 2007 Cone Holiday Trend Tracker. 

This annual survey of Americans’ cause-related holiday purchasing attitudes and behavior reports that 49% of respondents say they proactively look for opportunities to purchase gifts associated with a cause, while 57% would be willing to pay more for a holiday gift if it was tied to a cause.  In a retail (and year-end giving) season weakened by the nation-wide housing crisis, “gifts that give” may be more popular than ever.   

At the same time, recent articles in the New York Times have urged consumers to be cautious, noting that the building of a donation into the purchase of an item is not always regulated, and that charities may see only a tiny portion of the money that their brand helped to bring in.  Last week, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez announced his desire to better regulate the relationship between retailers and charities, saying in a statement that “We need to ensure that charity is not being used solely as a sales pitch.” 

While shoppers should certainly be wary of those gifts that do not disclose the percentage of the price that goes toward the stated charity or cause, there are plenty of retailer-charity relationships that are transparent.  And consumers still seem to be very positive about cause marketing, as evidenced by Cone’s nationwide poll.  According to survey findings:

  • 71% of respondents are motivated to purchase cause-related gifts to introduce a cause they care about to others
  • 42% have purchased or plan to purchase a holiday gift that supports a cause this year
  • 39% purchased a holiday gift supporting a cause last year. 

So what gifts are hot this year?  Eco-friendly products, according to Deloitte’s 22nd Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends.  According to the Survey, 17% of consumers are willing to pay more for ‘green’ gifts; an October survey by Conservation International reported that more Americans than ever would like to give or receive gifts that are green.  Green is in, and gift ideas range from direct donations to carbon offsets to environmentally-friendly clothing, to yes- the direct purchase of products with transparent transactions to their partner charities, such as these, found through the World Wildlife Fund’s online shop.  And here’s a brand new, exceptional example of brand integration – the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Support Fund – which partners with WWF.
Consumers who’ve been won over by Coke’s polar bears in recent years are now being recruited to help save the species.

Informed consumers can continue to shop – and contribute – successfully… if they’re not opposed to weeding through the marketing to discern how much good their purchases will achieve.  If Senator Menendez’s plan is passed, this weeding will get easier.  And, of course, for those who find shopping enough of a chore already- a direct donation in the name of your loved one works nicely too. 

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