American Marketer


Swarovski supports American Cancer Society via cause marketing

September 21, 2010

Swarovski's "22 Ways to Say Black" benefits the American Cancer Society.


Swarovski Elements auctioned off 22 little black dresses by commissioned fashion designers this week for its “22 Ways to Say Black” initiative, entirely benefiting the American Cancer Society.

For luxury brands, cause marketing is a good tactic, as 19 percent of consumers are willing to buy a more expensive brand if it is associated with a cause, according to a Cone Inc. study. Eighty-three percent of Americans wish that more of the products, retailers and services they use would support causes.

“Luxury brands get into causes because marketing has matured towards it,” said Joe Waters, director of cause and event marketing at Boston Medical Center and a cause marketing blogger at, Boston. “Cause is really becoming a part of everyone’s marketing mix these days.

“Everyone really recognizes that it’s a part of marketing,” he said. “[Luxury brand] customers want [the brands] to give back and there is a high expectation out there that brands are going to give back.”

According to the Cone study, during an economic recession Americans have an even higher expectation of brands and companies to support charities and causes, with 31 percent saying that this time above any is when brands and companies should be stepping up.

The Cone study found that 85 percent of consumers have a more positive image of a product when it supports a cause that they care about.

With consumers cutting down on extravagant spending and the luxury industry falling 8 percent during the recession, cause marketing could certainly help lift it back up a few notches.

“I think the overriding thing that brands use cause marketing for is that it’s great for building favorability, whereas other forms of marketing build visibility,” Mr. Waters said. “One of the things that extends up to a luxury brand is kind of like what Pepsi is doing right now.

“They said, ‘We’re going to put all of our money into charities’ and then let people pick where to put it,” he said. “What they really do is put that power into the hands of the consumer.”

For Swarovski, the mere fact that its 22 Ways to Say Black initiative benefitted the American Cancer Society almost guaranteed that all 22 of the little black dresses would be auctioned off.

Forty-one percent of Americans have bought a product simply because it was associated with a cause or issue in the past year and 53 percent prefer to support a company that allows them to impact the donation by purchasing an item.

Swarovski is promoting the initiative on its Web site, its Facebook page and on YouTube.

Here is a screen grab of one of the dresses that was up for auction:


Here is the YouTube video:

“What’s really important is that a brand or company gets involved in a cause that they find important and they share that with their consumers,” Mr. Waters said. “What’s important is that there is authenticity and importance, and that’s where it makes a difference.

“A business has to pick a cause that you care about,” he said. "If you don’t care about, the customers won’t care about it."

Final Take
Kaitlyn Bonneville, editorial assistant at Luxury Daily, New York