Leading with Your Values: The Case for Cause-Based Marketing
Cause marketing is a strategy used by businesses from every industry across the globe. Linking your business to an external cause elevates your brand - be it through an environmental, social, or equitable lens. Values-based business models are relevant for businesses of any size, but a great example of this strategy in action is The Lego Group.
Lego is an international brand that makes children’s toy bricks. Started in 1932, Lego has become an international household name. They’ve established a profitable business model that works, and have not wavered in popularity amidst advancing technology. Despite their consistent business model and stable product line, Lego has slowly developed a brand that is centered around corporate social responsibility. Their values have become a core piece of their marketing strategy and their business model. By supporting children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian crises, sourcing 98% of their materials sustainable, plant-based resources, and investing in German offshore wind farms, Lego is going the extra mile to prove that they care.
Lego is just one example of thousands of companies who prove every day that their bottom line centers around more than just profit - they embody the triple bottom line of people, planet, and prosperity. Not only do these efforts activate a sense of purpose in the work for the staff and leadership, but triple bottom line practices can actually elevate the brand and refine the marketing techniques. Lego, for example, received weeks of publicity and media attention in August of 2018 when they announced the restructuring of their manufacturing process.* Even for a household name like Lego, the added press helps bring their brand to the top of mind, and can help attract new audiences of shoppers who are dedicated conscious consumers.
Lego is a great example, albeit a $5.4 billion company and not the norm, by any means. For small business owners, the effort of practicing the triple bottom line may feel like an added burden. The idea of spending extra time and money to aid specific causes without a tangible correlation to increased profit margins can seem like a waste. Small business owners may not have the funds to start a foundation, or the ability to donate a portion of their profits to charities. This is why it’s important to remember that implementing cause marketing in your communication plan does not require being a multi-million dollar company.
Start by finding the areas where triple bottom line practices have already been established in your company. For example: do you pay your employees an above-average wage? Do you offer job opportunities for people with mental or physical disabilities? Are you making an effort to recycle unusual materials? These small successes add up, and all of them are important. Highlighting these strengths will elevate your brand above the competition. Leading with values helps customers relate better to your company and your business model. When you’re selling more than just the product, your audience grows, as well as your reputation.
Cause marketing can elevate any brand - be it a household name or a young entrepreneur. Every business starts small.
*Lego Wants to Completely Remake Its Toy Bricks (Without Anyone Noticing (New York Times), Lego goes sustainable with bricks made from sugarcane (Business Insider)