Men and Cause Marketing

Earlier this Summer results starting coming out from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study and among the headlines was women are generally more responsive to cause marketing than men, providing further confirmation of what I’ve long suspected.

But men aren’t absent from the cause marketing equation. I asked the Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) at Georgetown University, which authored the study, to parse out responses from men on key issues and they kindly obliged.

Cause marketing targeted to men is a topic of some interest to cause marketers. Cause marketing is a form of sponsorship. Its biggest rival for sponsorship dollars comes from sports, which as a whole is about seven times larger than cause marketing. Men constitute the usual target market for sports. In short, men participate in sponsorship in a big way. But cause marketers are still learning how to target men.

The topic of men and cause marketing came up at the recent Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. Mike Swenson, president of the PR division of the agency Barkley in Kansas City blogs about the session in his fine blog Citizen Brand.

Barkley’s own research on the topic of men and cause marketing suggests, in Mike’s words, that “men do have a heart.”

So how do cause marketers get men into the cause marketing tent, how do we get them to act and how do we know when their involved?

I’ll list the question the CSIC asked first, followed by the top 5 answers from men, along with the best-finishing ‘cause marketing’ answer in bold. The answers are intriguing and in some cases suggests new entres into the psyches of men when it comes to cause marketing.

The CSIC study asked, “How men first get involved with a cause?”
  • Talking to others about it 39%
  • Donating money 38%
  • Learning more about the issue and its impact 35%
  • Signing a petition for the cause 25%
  • Donating personal items (clothes, points, hair, etc) 23%
  • Buying products/services from companies who support the cause 14%
One of the conclusions that Swenson and Barkely draw is that the best way to get to men is to ask them to do something. That’s probably sound. Men and boys bond with each other by doing stuff together. It’s likely they will best bond with a cause in similar ways. Although the CSIC study also demonstrates that men are as willing to practice checkbook philanthropy as they are to support a cause by doing.

This is confirmed in the CSIC study’s second question: “How men most often get involved with causes.”
  • Donating money 41%
  • Talking to others about it 34%
  • Learning more about the issue and its impact 20%
  • Signing a petition for the cause 19%
  • Donating personal items (clothes, points, hair, etc.) 18%
  • Buying products/services from companies who support the cause 10%
Finally, “How Men Are Most Likely to Display their Support of Causes:”
  • Wear a cause ribbon pin 18%
  • Wear clothing or other attire displaying the cause logo 16%
  • Wear the color of the cause on a special day 15%
  • Put a cause bumper sticker on your car 15%
  • Use a reusable bag showing the cause logo 14%
  • Purchase specially designed products to support the cause 14%
In this last one the cause marketing approach is the sixth most common answer. In the prior questions there were other answers in between the fifth response and the highest-finishing ‘cause marketing’ response.

Because of the low percentage of the responses and the tightness of the grouping, there’s two logical conclusions. Either men don’t often display their support of causes or the responses provided by the study didn’t capture the way men are likely to display their support. I suspect the former.

If cause marketers are serious about targeting men, they need a better understanding of what men are about when it comes to supporting causes.

Thanks to the data from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study we have a much better idea.
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