For Love or For Money: Brands that support charities
Brands that support charities; are they truly concerned or just trying to win our hearts for profit? Would you switch brands if you saw they supported a charity that was close to your heart? We asked our Caféstudy panelists what they think.
For the most part, respondents were weary of the motives behind a company that associates their brand with a charity. Many see it as a tax dodge that costs the company nothing and simply another form of advertising that looks to loosen purse strings.
“I think the whole corporate support of charities is a cynical move to increase sales and dodge tax”.
It is not just brands that are under the microscope but also the charities themselves. Many respondents want greater transparency on where and how raised money is being spent. If the impact of their support could be more easily understood, respondents would feel more comfortable purchasing the brand. In the absence of this, respondents would rather donate directly to their chosen charities.
“I believe these charities are mainly for profit making. While we donate or support a brand, the funds are not transparent enough to show the public what has been done and achieved”.
However, despite this mistrust respondents think that corporations have an obligation to support charities. So even if the company’s motives aren’t truly altruistic it is a win-win situation that respondents feel comfortable with.
“Whether they are truly concerned or not doesn't bother me; because either way someone wins”.
Despite a win-win for the charity and brand, given the high level of cynicism around motives, the majority of respondents won’t choose a brand because they support a charity. With all things equal, product quality and preference come first. As one respondent points out, “supporting a charity does not make the company better at what they do or make their products or service better”. If the product is easily substitutable, some respondents may consider a switch… if they feel the charity is reputable. There are a small number of respondents that are open to buying brands that align themselves openly with a charity. Even if they don’t buy the brand they may feel better about the brand. With this in mind should companies turn their charitable support into an advertising campaign or leave it as a tax write-off and feel-good factor for employees? According to our panelists the later. Company support of charities is seen as morally responsible but not something to wear on their sleeves. There appears a need for brands to better communicate to consumers how their support makes a difference. Doing so may influence a more positive view in shoppers.