Something special has been happening in fashion, and I hope it’s here to stay: as brands like H&M, Kenneth Cole, and Marks & Spencer have proven, cause-related marketing is in full fashion. As I continue my journey in seeking to build the bridge between fashion and social responsibility, I can’t help but feel excited about my research in cause-related marketing .
With thanks to my socially-minded Millennial generation, “buying good” is in style. Millennial consumers have grown up as the most active generation of volunteers since the 1930’s and 1940’s, making social contributions a priority in their lifestyle and spending habits. As a result, many companies in and out of the fashion industry have attached social causes to their marketing initiatives, demonstrating that they too, are invested in making an impact in society.
H&M has once taken on the “Fashion Against Aids” campaign, which has raised over $11 million over the course of 5 years.
Kenneth Cole has established the “Awearness” fund, a not-for profit initiative that encourages volunteerism and social change.
British retailer Marks & Spencer created the “Shwop” program, a recycling/upcycling initiative that encourages customers to donate old clothing items for a chance to win a gift card. The clothes are then donated to Oxfam, who reuses them to help communities overcome poverty.
So why cause marketing? Well, these initiatives not only raise funds for causes, but also significantly increase brand loyalty among Millennials, thus increasing company profits- a win-win situation, even from the business standpoint. Of course, businesses have their own selfish reasons for giving back to the world, but as long as they’re actually doing it (with integrity), I’ll continue to be excited about it (with my critical eye intact) .
At a time when the fashion industry is still under hot water and public scrutiny from the devastating collapse of clothing factories in Bangladesh last year, I argue that cause-related marketing is no longer an option, but a necessity. The industry MUST work harder in giving back to the global community, and make it a core priority.
While there is still much, much more work to be done in ensuring that companies are truly operating ethically and responsibly, cause-related marketing (however small of a step it may be) is a good start.
Let’s just hope they finish strong.
By: Ruby Veridiano