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Cause Marketing Even More Important for Women In Down Economy

What do female consumers want from companies? The answer is simple: They just want them to be good.

Self MagazineIn 2007, Self magazine released results from a study titled GOOD, which examined how women react to cause marketing. Its findings encouraged cause-supporting companies to make the move from telling consumers about how the company was giving back, to telling consumers how they were helping the company give back—the consumer feels better about herself when she supports "good" companies.

Self recently released GOOD 1.5, which delves deeper into women's responses to cause marketing and is relevant given how different the economy is from 2007. Cynthia Walsh, executive director of marketing for Self, said that while many marketers expect consumers to care less about "good" in this environment, the opposite is actually true.

"Eighty-one percent of women polled said it's now more difficult to give to causes herself. This makes women feel bad about themselves, so they're looking to brands to help them do good," Walsh said. Similarly, 80% expressed concern that companies will cut back on giving back.

The study also shows that women's emotions around supporting causes have changed. Back in 2007, they wanted to give back because it was the "ethical" and "socially responsible" thing to do as an "informed" person. Since the economic downturn, they're driven by more human emotions—it's now the "caring, generous, unselfish" thing to do.

Self MagazineWalsh said it has become increasingly important for companies to publicly promote their causes. Many companies cite skeptical consumers as the reason they don't market their cause—but win over a skeptic, and gain a hyper-loyal consumer. Walsh cited Product Red as a great example—when the organization went to Rwanda to distribute AIDS medication to children (a journey that was made possible by consumers' purchases), they blogged about the experience and added images to their Web site, giving consumers a personal look at how they helped others.

The takeaway? Women want to see companies stand up for a cause, even in this economic environment, and even if it costs them a little more—73% said they would pay more for a "good" product.