Financial companies are most affiliated with good causes (Survey)

Rebecca Harris October 30, 2014

With CIBC Run for the Cure, the RBC Blue Water Project and TD’s environmental commitment, Canada’s big banks must be doing something right.

According to a new study of Canadians’ attitudes towards corporate citizenship efforts, consumers perceive the financial industry to be the most involved with good causes.

The study, “A Canadian View on Cause Marketing” by Ipsos Reid in collaboration with Cause Marketing Forum, found that 45% of the 1,500 Canadians surveyed associate the majority of the financial sector with good causes, while only 25% think both the alcohol and pharma sectors are affiliated with good causes. Other sectors named in the survey are quick-service restaurants (39%), food and beverage (38%), telecom (36%), retail (32%) and automotive (31%).

A variety of companies were mentioned as being affiliated with good causes, but Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire came out on top. Other companies that are top of mind for consumers include Bell, Coca-Cola, Scotiabank, TD Bank, CIBC, RBC, McDonald’s and Walmart.


As for which causes Canadian companies should be supporting, five came out on top: mental health (60%), poverty (60%), child-specific (57%), environmental (56%) and physical health (56%).

“We’ve had a lot of PR about mental health, for example Bell’s [Let’s Talk Day], so I think Canadians are reacting to some of the [marketing] activity in these areas,” said Barbara Brooks, vice-president at Ipsos Reid.

Consumers also want companies’ cause-marketing efforts to benefit groups close to home. When asked to determine which “level” of cause they would want a Canadian company to align with, 44% said “national,” 38% said “local” while only 18% indicated “global.” By local, 48% defined it as their province, 46% said their city or town and 7% said their own neighbourhood.


In the survey, 84% of respondents said they would be likely to switch brands to one affiliated with a good cause if price and quality were comparable.

When it comes to making decisions on which products or services to buy, 36% indicated “affiliation with good causes” as being a purchase influencer. This was behind “meets my needs” (84%), “trustworthy” (79%), “promotions and sales” (67%) and “reputation” (45%), but ahead of “advertising” (25%).


The top way Canadian consumers recall having participated in cause-marketing campaigns is donating at the cash register (59%). This was followed by a ‘cause-embedded purchase’ where a portion of sales goes to a cause (43%) and a company-sponsored event (20%).

“Smart retailers and restaurateurs tap into this trend by making point of sale giving an enhancement of the consumer’s experience—not just a guilt trip,” said David Hessekiel, president of Cause Marketing Forum, in a release, adding that accomplishing this is “part art and part science.”

The survey results were released at the Companies & Causes Canada conference in Toronto on Oct. 28.