17 Cause-Related Marketing Examples for Ecommerce

Written by Dayana Mayfield

Written by Dayana Mayfield

Cause-related marketing is poised to grow. Millennials and Gen Z already wield $350 billion worth of buying power in the US alone. 

Both generations care more about fair wages, racial equity (not just equality), and sustainability when compared to their parents and grandparents. 

76% of Gen Z and Millennials will pay more for a sustainable product. 90% of Gen Z supports Black Lives Matter. And when it comes to fashion, Gen Z cares more about finding pieces that express their individuality than about buying the latest trend. According to a recent Depop study, 75% of the platform’s Gen Z shoppers buy second-hand to lower their carbon footprint, 55% have started eating more environmentally friendly food, and 35% are working on minimizing their use of plastic. 

The short and skinny of it? Any company wanting to sell to Gen Z and Millennials needs to tie its brand marketing to important causes.

What is a cause-related marketing campaign?

A cause-related marketing campaign is one that puts a social or environmental cause front and center. Instead of just marketing your products for their utility or attractiveness, you market your products’ impact on important causeswhether directly via sustainably sourced materials, indirectly through donations, or both.

17 cause marketing examples

Examples always make things easier to understand. Here are 17 cause-related marketing examples across a variety of product categories.

1. Terez

Type of cause marketing: Donation incentive for shopper.

What you can learn: Terez makes bold leggings and activewear for women and girls. In one of their cause marketing social media posts, they supported Pride Month by offering a $25 donation to a charity of the customer’s choice after a qualifying order of $200. On their Givz donation page, they featured LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations. If your brand doesn’t have dedicated causes you’re aligned with, you can change the causes you support throughout the year.

2. Bombas

bombas cause marketing

Type of cause marketing: One-for-one giving

What you can learn: Following in the footsteps of shoe brand Toms, Bombas gives an item of clothing for every item purchased. All donated items go to homeless communities in the United States. The brand has over 3500 giving nonprofit partners, (local shelters and organizations). With so many brands choosing to give to impoverished communities abroad, you can stand out by choosing to help your home country.

3. kencko

kencko x Givz

Type of cause marketing: Donation incentive for shopper

What you can learn: Kencko is a subscription service for smoothie packets that can be mixed with water or plant-based milk. Their customers care about both their health and reducing the use of plastic bottles and cups. They use Givz’s donation incentive platform to offer a $50 donation when a customer subscribes to a 60 pack. The takeaway here is that high-bar donation incentives can help increase your average order value.

4. Thrive Market

Type of cause marketing: One-for-one giving and corporate-managed donations

What you can learn: ThriveMarket offers an annual subscription to its platform for a family in need, every time one is purchased. This helps increase accessibility for low-income families in neighborhoods where healthy food is hard to find. In addition, the company has donated millions in healthy groceries and disaster relief. While you might start with just one type of cause marketing, you should layer on different programs in order to show your target customers that you are growing your impact as your profits grow.

5. Sakara

Type of cause marketing: Donation incentive for shopper

What you can learn: Sakara is a plant-based subscription meal program and nutrition education site. During the Thanksgiving season, they used Givz’s donation incentive software to easily manage donations to Feeding America. The brand offered a $30 donation for every $75-order placed. Donations are better than discounts because they foster customer loyalty and cost less too. Since not every customer will complete the donation process with Givz, you can increase your average order value and take less of a hit.

6. Who Gives a Crap

Type of cause marketing: Product-driven impact and corporate-managed donations

What you can learn: Toilet paper has a big sustainability problem. The daily use product slashes forests and comes wrapped in plastic. Who Gives a Crap creates plastic-free products made of bamboo, a fast-growing and much more sustainable option. They’ve aligned their problem-solving product with an important cause. The company gives 50% of all profits to build toilets in communities that need them. Since contaminated water causes 1 million deaths per year annually, toilets are a life-saving invention. With such a big donation percentage (50%!), the company easily stands out and wins over conscious consumers.

7. Prospect Farms

Type of cause marketing: Donation incentive for shopper

What you can learn: Prospect Farms creates CBD products for humans and animals. Their anxiety-relieving tinctures come in unique formulas for different times of the day. Ingredients are grown on a 400-year-old farm in Maine. Their veterinarian-approved products are a standout, so the company wanted to donate to an animal-related cause. They used Givz to make it happen. Because their audience loves animals, it makes sense to donate to Animal Haven for any purchase, not just a pet CBD purchase. When creating a campaign, choose a cause that works for your audience in general, not just a certain product line.

8. Loli

Type of cause marketing: Product-driven impact and donation incentive for shopper

What you can learn: LOLI is a skincare and beauty brand that factors sustainability into every step. The company creates upcycled, water-free products in sustainable packaging. They also use Givz to manage donation incentives. After every order, customers can donate 10% of the order amount to a charity of their choice. By allowing customers to choose their own charity with Givz, you can easily align your brand to the causes they care about.

9. Blueland

Type of cause marketing: Product-driven impact

What you can learn: Blueland, the eco-friendly brand of soaps and cleaning products featured on Shark Tank, helps to eliminate single-use plastic bottles. They rely on the impact of their product to drive a lot of their marketing, and they don’t publicly donate to any causes. If your product is already aligned with a cause, it’s still smart to offer donation incentives or corporate-managed charitable donations. But, if you’re investing in scaling or building new products, it’s okay to wait to do those.

10. Pact

Type of cause marketing: Problem-solving for customers

What you can learn: Pact’s Give Back, Wear Forward program is a unique approach to cause-related marketing. You can use the box that your Pact order came in, or any cardboard box, to donate gently used clothes. Pact will take it from there. This is a smart type of cause marketing because it solves a problem for busy customers. It’s hard to find the time to donate clothes. Pact makes it easy, thus increasing brand loyalty and reciprocity.

11. Avocado

Type of cause marketing: Product-driven impact and corporate-managed donations

What you can learn: Avocado mattresses are created with sustainably sourced, 100% certified organic materials. The company is also a Certified B Corporation and is on its way to being the first-ever zero-waste certified mattress factory. Avocado is a member of 1% for the Planet, an organization that collects 1% of a company’s profits for environmental causes. Avocado is a great example of how to approach sustainability from every angle. If this is a cause your audience cares about, follow their lead and work on getting those important certifications.

12. TB12 Sports

TB12 Sports x Givz

Type of cause marketing: Donation incentives for shoppers

What you can learn: TB12 offers performance-focused supplements, workout apparel, and equipment. The company uses Givz to offer donation incentives to shoppers. This is a smart way to increase the conversions of more expensive products. With Givz, you can easily adjust your qualifying order minimum. You might want to make it a little higher than your average order value, or you could set it to match your slower selling, pricey products. 

13. Hyer Goods

Type of cause marketing: Product-driven impact and corporate-managed donations

What you can learn: With upcycled fanny packs, wallets, and other goods, Hyer Goods appeals to conscious consumers who want on-trend accessories they can feel good about. The company also donates 1% of their profits to social causes. Rather than align their sustainable products with environmental issues, they instead weave in people-focused causes to broaden their impact. Here’s proof you can zig where other brands zag.

14. Pangaia

Type of cause marketing: Product-driven impact and temporary 100% profit donations

What you can learn: Pangaia shows you exactly how their products align with consumer concerns. Every product page shows actual resources saved, as well as equivalences, such as 9.7 km of driving emissions and 686.2 days of drinking water. What’s more, the company creates temporary giving campaigns. For 48 hours the company donated 100% of profits to New South Wales Rural Fire Services. They also donated 100% of the proceeds of a certain product line. These sorts of temporary causes can make it easy to manage doable giving, while also creating urgency for shoppers.

15. Bixbee

Type of cause marketing: One-for-one giving

What you can learn: Bixbee donates one backpack to a child in need for every backpack purchased. The backpacks have a patented horizontal design that is designed for kids’ posture. No hunching! If your product is related to kids or health (or both), one-for-one giving might be the growth and impact strategy you need.

16. Allbirds

Type of cause marketing: Product-driven impact

What you can learn: Allbirds offers wool shoes and apparel. With a timeless style and quality construction, the products are built to last. The company sustainably sources both its materials and product packaging. Take a page out of Allbirds’ book and make your impact visual. The visual clarity makes the importance of what you do more real and can help increase brand loyalty and sales. 

17. Roma

Type of cause marketing: One-for-one giving and open donations

What you can learn: Roma’s fashionable rainboots “give poverty the boot.” The brand donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. The company also does something not often seen—customers can directly donate without purchasing anything to give a child a pair of boots. This is a smart way to show your customers that you really are in it for your mission, not just your profits.

How to set up your own caused-based incentive (the easy way)

Cause marketing can be as simple or as complicated as you have time for. If you’re new to this marketing strategy and want an easy way to align your brand causes, follow these steps. 

1. Use donation incentive software

Cause marketing can be as simple or as complicated as you have time for. If you’re new to this marketing strategy and want an easy way to align your brand causes, follow these steps. 

With Givz, your donation page activates after checkout, and our platform manages the donations to 501c3 organizations on your behalf. You can feature organizations that align with your causes while also allowing customers to search for any org of their choice.

2. Let customers donate a flat rate or a percentage

Here are some examples of donation incentives:

  • Donate $10 for a $75 order
  • Donate $25 for a $200 order
  • Donate $5 for any order
  • Donate 5% of the sales of any order

Consider your goals for the incentive. Do you want to use it to increase average order values? Do you want to show customers that you care? Both? The answers to these questions will help you determine the right framework for your donation incentive.

3. Spread the word

Cause marketing is marketing after all. Use your Instagram stories, Instagram posts, TikTok videos, email newsletters, and even influencer relationships to spread the word about your causes and your brand’s impact on them. 

Sakara created a clear and simple Instagram story to showcase their Givz donation incentive.

4. Make the impact feel real

Don’t just use social media to tell customers about your cause marketing. Show them. In this example, Roma is showing a “boot drop” in Chicago, where low-income families can stop by to get boots and other free goods for their children. 

5. Measure and scale your cause marketing

And finally, you’ll want to measure your cause marketing and scale what works. Measure how causes impact landing page conversions, email conversions, ad costs, and social media engagement rates, and then act accordingly. For example, if you find that emails mentioning donation incentives lead to higher click-through rates, then create additional promotional emails for relevant ecommerce holidays and events. Or, if you notice that cause-related Instagram posts get more engagement, then post them more often. 

Cause marketing is on the rise. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to manage. 

Set up donation incentives in minutes with Givz.

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