How does Cause Related Marketing impact Emotion and Buying Behaviour?

Cause Related Marketing (CRM) is when a company develops links with a charity or other social cause. The company usually donates a percentage of sales or a service to the chosen charity or social cause Business in the Community claims that cause related marketing” provides a “win, win, win” scenario for all involved; the company, the charity and the consumer.

The practice started in 1980s with US credit card company American Express joining forces with a Not-for-Profit that was raising money to restore the Statue of Liberty. American Express agreed to donate a percentage of every purchase made with their credit card and an additional donation with every new customer acquired to this cause. This strategy proved successful and helped the restoration fund raise over $1.7 Million and also increased American Express credit card use by 27%.

TOMS’ shoes is a more recent example of CRM at its best. TOMS was founded in 2006 by an entrepreneur looking to create a socially responsible company. The slogan of the company is “One for One”. The aim of the company would be to match every pair of TOMS shoes bought with a pair of shoes for a child in need.  Following this initiative TOMS have donated over 50 million pairs of shoes to those in need since 2013 and with this success have been able to expand their business model to tackle other issues such as avoidable blindness, clean drinking water and safer birth.

Cause related marketing has been in practice since the 1980s, but now with the increase in social media and sharing behaviour cause related marketing has the potential to make even more of an impact. Social media provides the brand and the cause the opportunity to develop awareness worldwide at a faster rate.

Brand Image

When deciding to deploy a cause related marketing strategy it is important that the company chooses the right cause or charity to associate with. Brand managers should link with a cause or charity that is compatible with their company values and goals – the“brand fit”. Brand attitude is important for brand development and growth. Positive brand attitude can be reinforced when a brand is associated with a relevant and positive social cause.



When compared Toms had a significantly higher Adorescore than other well known shoe brand Converse. The main high intensity emotions evoked from mentions of Toms were ecstasy, vigilance and admiration. Toms’ online content highlights the charitable work they do and the difference their donations make. People can see where their money goes to when they purchase a pair of Toms they feel like they are making a difference and doing some good.

Converse’s content is not overly negative – it just is missing the evidence of social responsibility that Toms represents. The high intensity emotions drawn from Converse are ecstasy, loathing and vigilance. The contrast shows the impact that CRM has on customer perception of a brand.

Toms have been able to generate a lot of profit and press from integrating their brand values and culture directly into their advertisements and social media channels. They send the message that they’re not just selling shoes and accessories; they’re selling a lifestyle of generosity and making a difference and that makes people feel good. Who wouldn’t want to join in?


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