Select Page
What is cause marketing - definition

What is Cause Marketing?

Unclear about what cause marketing is? You’re not alone. It is one of the most common questions we get hear. We're almost certain you've run into cause marketing at some point in your life, you probably just didn't know that there was a name for it. But even for those of us that are familiar with the concept, cause marketing can be a difficult concept to define. Each year, groundbreaking campaigns push the boundaries of the concept to new heights—necessitating an update to the cause marketing definition below.

Cause Marketing Definition


Definition: Cause marketing (synonymous with cause-related marketing) is the marketing of a for-profit product or business which benefits a nonprofit charity or supports a social cause in some way.

Usually cause marketing takes shape as a mutually beneficial marketing partnership between a nonprofit charity and a for-profit business in service of both parties’ respective business, social, or environmental goals. Businesses commonly leverage the good virtue associated with the cause to differentiate a product, encourage shoppers to switch brands, increase sales, or nurture customer loyalty. Nonprofits benefit in both the funding driven to their cause as well as increased exposure to potential donors in a highly-positive context.

Cause Marketing vs. Cause-related Marketing

Cause marketing vs. cause-related marketing search terms

Ever wonder what the difference is, if any, between cause marketing and cause-related marketing? Though some in the field argue that cause marketing and cause-related marketing each have a unique meaning, in practice the two terms are largely used interchangeably.

So then the next logical question is: which is more commonly used? The answer depends very much on your current geography. As you can see from these comparisons of the search traffic for each term, cause marketing is used more frequently in the U.S. and Canada, while cause-related marketing is used more frequently in the U.K. and India. We recommend choosing one and sticking with it in order to avoid unnecessary confusion in the first place.

Still Confused?

We don't blame you. There are many different types of cause marketing campaigns, ranging from point-of-sale to buy-one-give-one. With so much variation, the cause marketing definition above must be broad, but these cause marketing examples should help you wrap your head around it.

Every year creative businesses will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, paving the way for others, and further evolving the current cause marketing definition.

Drawing the line between what is cause marketing and what isn't is an ongoing process, so please feel free to let us know if you think our cause marketing definition needs an update.