More and more, consumers are supporting brands that align with their own values and beliefs or champion causes that resonate with them. That’s a great thing. Us marketers are also consumers, after all, and we can appreciate the benefits of connecting with a brand on this deeper, more personal level.  

In fact, research from the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) shows that 31% of consumers are more likely to do their Christmas shopping this year with brands that prioritise sustainability. That percentage skyrockets to 51% amongst those aged 18-34.  

Based on a recent study by NIQ, 69% of global consumers say that sustainability and ESG concerns have increased in importance to them over the last two years. It’s no surprise that the climate crisis has prompted many people to re-evaluate their buying habits, and it’s hard to imagine the importance consumers place on sustainability considerations falling away any time soon.

This is a huge opportunity for brands. If your brand proactively and authentically supports social or eco causes, you can often enjoy a competitive advantage. You can attract a loyal customer base, and positively influence your brand’s reputation – as well as doing your important bit for the planet. 

Where do marketing promotions come in? 

When promotional activity is thoughtfully designed and executed, it can cut through the noise of competitors, tap into the powerful utilitarian and hedonistic natures of consumer mindsets and put your brand at the forefront. But, when promotions align to a sustainable initiative or set of brand values that growing numbers of consumers share, well, that’s an incredibly powerful combination.  

By demonstrating a clear connection between a promotional incentive and a brand’s existing CSR cause, promotions can give any marketing strategy an adrenaline shot in the arm.  

 Effective, strategically deployed and aligned promotions can play a key role in driving consumer behaviour and elevating awareness of a brand’s existing sustainability initiatives. They can reinforce your brand’s values, its CSR integrity, enhance its reputation as an authentic brand, and build trust and loyalty with customers. 

Let’s take a closer look at how marketers can use promotions to support existing CSR initiatives and, as a result, help turn consumers into loyal customers.  

The challenges of connecting promotional activity to existing CSR strategies 

The promotional activity or tactic that you deploy to support your brand’s CSR strategies will, by its very nature, aim to raise awareness about existing CSR initiatives, achievements, and goals.  

According to GreenPrint’s 2021 Business of Sustainability Index, 64% of Gen X consumers will spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, and that figure jumps to 75% among millennials. So, it’s no surprise that marketers are keen to shout about their CSR initiatives and integrate them in their promotions.   

But a word to the wise! As we all know, consumers are increasingly savvy, and they can quickly discern between genuine efforts to support worthwhile causes and mere greenwashing. If more of your efforts are spent on talking about your CSR initiatives than implementing them and making a positive change, consumers will see through them.  

After all, consumers have deep relationships with brands they trust, and nothing destroys trust in a business more than consumers realising it has been lying to them about something very important to them.  


Find the Perfect Fit For Your Brand


Creating a sales promotion that connects with CSR initiatives  

Research has shown that customers respond more favourably to promotions that are congruent with the nature of the product. (Chandon, et al., 2000). 

Therefore, when planning your promotional activities, you should consider the type of product or promotion you are offering as an incentive and how it cohesively fits in with the wider CSR values and activity of your brand. 

Often, promotional activity deployed to bolster CSR initiatives, falls short because it doesn’t do the following. 

  1. Utilise a promotion that is relevant to the brand, product, and target market.  
  2. Communicate clearly and authentically how the promotion supports the CSR cause and what impact it will have.  
  3. Measure and report the results of the promotion and the social or environmental benefits it generated.  
  4. Ensure that the promotion is consistent with overall CSR and marketing strategies and long-term goals. 

Benefits of using promotions to support CSR strategies 

What positive outcomes will a well-executed promotion that connects and aligns with existing CSR strategies achieve? 

  • Increased Awareness: Sales promotions offer an excellent opportunity to inform and educate consumers about your brand’s CSR efforts. Integrating CSR messaging into promotional materials allows marketers to communicate the brand’s dedication to making a positive impact on society and the environment. 
  • Enhanced Credibility: Authenticity is vital, and sales promotions that align with CSR initiatives can significantly enhance a brand’s credibility. Consumers are more likely to trust and engage with brands that actively support social and environmental causes beyond profit-driven campaigns. 
  • Greater Trust: Trust is the cornerstone of successful marketing efforts. Sales promotions that support CSR initiatives help build trust with consumers who value socially responsible companies. This trust can lead to long-term customer loyalty and advocacy. 
  • Increased Responsible Consumption: Marketers can use sales promotions to encourage consumers to make responsible choices, such as buying eco-friendly or socially responsible products. Discounts and special offers can be tied to products that align with CSR values. 
  • Aligned Values: Effective marketing is all about connecting with your target audience. By integrating CSR messaging and initiatives into sales promotions, you can establish a strong connection with consumers who share similar values. This alignment can lead to more meaningful customer relationships and loyalty. 
  • Increased Sales: Sales promotions are designed to boost product sales and brand awareness. When these promotions are associated with CSR initiatives, the increased sales can also translate into more resources available for further CSR efforts. 
  • Authentic Commitment: Sales promotions can be a visible way to demonstrate your brand’s commitment to CSR initiatives and making a positive impact on society and the environment. 
  • Powerful Partnerships: Sales promotions can highlight partnerships with non-profit organisations or social enterprises. These partnerships can enhance your brand’s CSR efforts, as they demonstrate that you’re working with established partners to create a positive impact. 

CSR and Sustainability

Real-world best practice examples 

Sales promotions possess a unique and often underestimated power: the ability to drive positive change and promote the sustainability and social responsibility values of a brand. 

Raising Awareness and Fostering Sustainable Practices 

Sales promotions provide a valuable platform to raise awareness about sustainability and social responsibility. Brands can use promotions to highlight specific eco-friendly products, showcase their commitment to ethical sourcing, or emphasise the environmental impact of their operations. By incorporating educational elements into promotions, you can inform consumers about sustainable practices and encourage them to make conscious choices. 

Patagonia: The beloved outdoor apparel company is a pioneer in using promotions to promote sustainability. Their “Worn Wear” initiative encourages customers to buy used Patagonia gear or trade in their old items for store credit. This unique approach not only extends the lifecycle of products but also reduces the demand for new production. 

Supporting Social Responsibility Initiatives 

Sales promotions can serve as a powerful tool to support various social responsibility initiatives. Brands can tie promotions to charitable donations, where a percentage of sales during a specified period is contributed to an important social cause. 

Toms: Toms is renowned for its trendy sneakers and also for its “One for One” model, where for every pair of shoes sold, a pair is donated to a child in need. While not a traditional sales promotion, this initiative demonstrates how embedding social responsibility into business practices can lead to significant positive impact. Showing that even one pair of sneakers can go a long way. 

Engaging Consumers in Meaningful Ways 

One of the key advantages of sales promotions is their ability to engage consumers on a personal level. By aligning promotions with sustainability and social responsibility, brands create a sense of purpose beyond profit. Consumers will also be more invested in their purchases, knowing that their choices contribute to positive change. So, they won’t feel as guilty about buying that expensive lipstick if a portion of the sale goes to something meaningful.  

The Body Shop: The Body Shop often runs promotions where a percentage of sales from specific product lines go towards various social and environmental causes. They transparently communicate the impact of these initiatives to consumers, fostering trust and engagement while keeping their audience moisturised and smelling great! 

Types of sales promotions that are ideal for supporting existing CSR initiatives 

Sales promotions have evolved beyond the traditional discount model. Today, they serve as a powerful avenue for businesses to align with sustainability and social responsibility values, fostering a sense of purpose among consumers.  

Let’s look at some types of sales promotions that not only drive sales but can also support existing CSR initiatives and contribute to positive social and environmental change. Which type of promotion could connect well with your brand’s CSR initiatives? 

Limited-Time Eco-Friendly Product Offers 

Limited-time eco-friendly product offers encourage customers to make sustainable choices. Brands can spotlight products made from recycled materials, featuring energy-efficient technology, or packaged using minimal waste. These promotions not only drive sales but also educate consumers about eco-friendly alternatives making them think about what impact their products have on the environment. 

“Buy One, Plant One” Campaigns 

 A compelling way to merge sales with sustainability is through “buy one, plant one” campaigns. For every purchase, a tree is planted, contributing to reforestation efforts. Such initiatives actively involve customers in environmental restoration while making them feel a part of a larger cause. It’s a win-win, as customers receive value and the planet benefits from their purchases. 

Donation Cashback Schemes 

Donation cashback schemes allow your consumers to choose a charity or cause to which a percentage of their purchase is donated. This empowers consumers to be philanthropic with their shopping decisions.

Cause-Related Marketing 

Cause-related marketing involves partnering with a charitable organisation to create mutually beneficial campaigns. Your brand might pledge a percentage of profits from a particular product line to support a specific cause. This not only increases brand visibility but also demonstrates a genuine commitment to social responsibility. 

Donations to Charitable Organisations 

Promotions can be tied to direct donations to charitable organisations. For instance, a portion of proceeds from a product or a specific time period can be donated to NGOs working on social or environmental issues. Such transparency in giving builds trust and showcases your dedication to making a positive impact. 

The importance of relevance 

The importance of supporting efforts relevant to your brand cannot be emphasised enough. While aligning with popular social causes can garner attention, it’s crucial to genuinely connect with initiatives that resonate with your company’s values. This authenticity is what differentiates a meaningful promotion from mere opportunism. Consumers are increasingly discerning; they can tell when a brand genuinely cares about a cause versus when it’s just a marketing ploy. 

The key to meaningful and successful promotions lies in crafting promotions that align with your brand’s identity and values, fostering an authentic connection with consumers. It’s a testament to the fact that promotions can be a force for good, creating a positive ripple effect in both the marketplace and society. 

Measuring the impact of CSR supporting sales promotions

An authentic promotion that truly supports a brand’s CSR values will have CSR impacts at the top of its metric list. It’s important to report on these impacts transparently so the consumers who bought from you as a result of this promotion, can see you are truly committed to the cause they have invested in helping you with. Aside from this metric, consider these others;  

  • Customer Feedback: Actively seek feedback from customers who participated in the promotion. Did they feel a sense of contribution to a social cause? Was the messaging clear? Gathering qualitative insights can reveal valuable information for refining future promotions. 
  • Donations or Contributions: If your promotion involves donations to charities or social causes, track the total amount donated. This concrete figure reflects the tangible impact of your efforts. 
  • Brand Perception and Loyalty: Conduct surveys or analyse data to understand if your brand’s perception has positively shifted due to your social responsibility promotions. Increased loyalty and positive sentiment are indications of successful alignment. 
  • Social Media Engagement: Monitor social media metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and hashtags related to the promotion. Increased engagement signifies that your promotion has not only captured attention but also sparked conversations around your brand’s social responsibility initiatives. 
  • Website Traffic and Conversions: Analyse the traffic to your website during the promotion. Are visitors exploring other sections of your website beyond the promotion? Are they converting into leads or customers? This indicates the effectiveness of your promotion in driving sustained interest. 
  • Sales Uplift: One of the most direct indicators of the success of a sales promotion is the increase in sales during the promotional period. This metric provides insight into whether the promotion resonated with your target audience and whether the social responsibility aspect influenced purchasing decisions. 

Final thoughts 

Leveraging sales promotions to support authentic brand CSR initiatives is a smart marketing strategy. It allows you to connect with socially conscious consumers, build trust, and ultimately drive sales while making a positive impact on the world.  

But it’s not just about driving sales with enticing discounts or catchy slogans; it’s about weaving social responsibility into the fabric of your brand and inviting customers to be a part of something meaningful. You must ensure that the initiatives you support align with your values and are communicated transparently to your consumers, so whilst your brand makes a tangible difference in the world you are also building lasting relationships with customers. 

Communicate your CSR initiatives clearly, report on progress, and consistently evaluate your impact to maintain trust with your audience and strengthen your brand’s reputation. 

Let’s collaborate to infuse your sales promotions with the spirit of social responsibility, creating a win-win scenario for your business and the world. Together, we can craft promotions that resonate, inspire, and drive positive change. Contact us today and let’s get started.