Cosmetics field puts on a good face

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A little civic responsibility can be a powerful thing; it could even persuade a woman to change her brand of lipstick. That's the latest thinking of cosmetic companies getting involved in a plethora of cause-marketing programs. The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study says 91% of women agree that "when a product or company supports a cause I care about, I have a more positive image of that product or company." Those who say they would be likely to switch from one brand to another if quality and price are about the same, but one is associated with a good cause: 89%.

"It's no secret women make a bulk of purchase decisions. It has been proven that women are more receptive to cause marketing than men," says Bill Chips, editor of IEG Sponsorship Report. "The fashion and apparel industries tend to support causes. Interest is across the board. We are seeing more activity from package-goods and personal-care products companies."

One savvy nonprofit organization is the Skin Cancer Foundation. While the bulk of its funding comes from philanthropic corporate sponsors such as Coppertone marketer Schering Plough Corp., which funds programs such as advertising and education, cause-marketing partners are still important for publicity.


Two of SCF's cause-marketing partners are Olay and Conde Nast Publications' Allure. This year Olay partnered with actress Mariska Hargitay and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery to offer nationwide "Bring a Buddy" skin cancer screenings and raise awareness about skin cancer prevention and early detection. Allure sells a "Play Safe in the Sun" $19.95 beauty box filled with cosmetics and donates $5 for each sold to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

"We like working with Allure because it helps us reach the younger audience," says Mary Stine, SCF executive director. "It is hard to get a message across to young people, and melanoma is the most common cancer among women 25 to 29."

The foundation has a seal of recommendation for approved products including creams, clothing and sunglasses on its Web site.

"We are trying to provide more visibility for our seal holder, whether they are moisturizers and sun screens and hats. ... We'd like to think we helped make and grow the market of higher SPF. Prior to using SPF 15, if people were using anything they were using a 4 or 6. At first people didn't know what it meant."

Ms. Stine points out that her organization gives marketers credibility and provides them with cutting-edge statistics on skin cancer and information on its prevention.

Another cause generating increased attention is ovarian cancer. L'Oreal Paris, which also promotes the Skin Cancer Foundation seal on its products, recently made a long-term commitment to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and has raised $9 million for the cause. In February it introduced the $12.95 "Color of Hope" bracelet featuring a sterling silver "O" on a mauve silk cord. A luxury pave diamond and white gold version was given to the 2005 Academy Award nominees and can be purchased for $600. Net proceeds from both bracelets benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

One of the most recognized cause-marketers in the cosmetics arena is Estee Lauder's MAC brand. The marketer has been active in an organic program featuring its Viva Glam lipstick line. The MAC AIDS Fund has raised $45 million since 1994 through the sale of its Viva Glam lipsticks, says John Demsey, global president of MAC Cosmetics and chairman of the MAC AIDS Fund.

"The fund was created as a collective response by the makeup artists who work for the company to give back money for men, women and children affected by AIDS," says Mr. Demsey. "They wanted to be able to share the company's success with the outside world. In the late `80s and early `90s AIDS had a dramatic affect in fashion and artistic communities."

Mr. Demsey says 100% of the retail price goes to the fund and the retailer also gives up its margin for the organization. MAC has a full line of lipsticks and other cosmetics that support the line. Today the Viva Glam line includes five lipsticks and a gloss. Most recently celebrities such as Boy George, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott, Linda Evangelista and Pamela Anderson helped launch the Viva Glam V line, which will take on a variety of health issues including Hepatitis C.

According to Mr. Demsey, the lion's share of everything spent to support the brand comes against the print advertising. The print campaign is part of the advertising and promotion of the brand. Everything is done in-house. TNS Media Intelligence indicates MAC spent about $3.86 million on Viva Glam V and $2.83 million on Viva Glam IV in 2004.

Nikki Korn, VP-cause marketing from Cone, a New York agency that specializes in the area, says MAC's use of image partnered with the powerful message of AIDS "is appropriately done in terms of whom its brand represents. That's an example of great approach."

"The Viva Glam lipstick campaign and other MAC-AIDs funds initiatives definitely affect the growth of the brand because it is a cause that the retail staff believes in," Mr. Demsey says, adding "yes, there is a halo affect. All of the sister [Estee Lauder] brands have benefited by the causes that [Viva Glam] supports."

Indeed, MAC is a sales driver for Estee Lauder. Lauder said strong sales from MAC's Small Eye Shadow, Lustreglass and Studio Fix products also contributed approximately $15 million.

"For MAC [the Viva Glam ads are its] only national advertising presence," says Mr. Demsey. "It is cause-related, yes; branding, yes. At the same time it goes to the heart and soul of what the brand is about."

How women view cause-marketing

91% of women agree that "when a product or company supports a cause I care about, I have a more positive image of that product or company"

89% of women are likely to switch from one brand to another brand that is about the same in price and quality, if the other brand is associated with a good cause

88% of women believe that companies should communicate the ways in which they are supporting causes

80% of women agree that "companies have a responsibility to support causes"

Source: Cone Corporate Citizenship Study

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