Adventures in Pet Food

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things pet food, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

Ideas to ramp up your cause marketing this year

Cause marketing -- promoting a brand, product or company through donations or other support of charitable causes -- is growing worldwide. In the US alone, spending on causes reached US$1.68 billion in 2011, according to IEG, a branding and sponsorship support firm (and reported by Matt Carmichael on That was a 3.7% increase over 2010. IEG projects cause spending to rise another 3.1% this year to US$1.73 billion.



Carmichael cited further research, the Cone Cause-Evolution Study, showing 83% of US respondents said they want brands to support causes; 41% said they have brought a product because it was associated with a cause -- and that percentage has doubled since 1993, Carmichael reported. More than 90% of respondents believe companies should give to causes in communities where they do business, the study also showed.



Another finding seems especially in sync with our industry: These US respondents said they would like the causes that companies support to be consistent with their brand messaging and in line with the causes the consumers themselves believe are important. This is a natural for petfood. Nearly every petfood company (and often industry suppliers) donates food and/or money to animal shelters and rescue groups, not just after a natural disaster or other crisis but often year-round. Even the tiniest treat companies at least donate broken biscuits that are otherwise perfectly fine and healthy to local shelters. And larger petfood companies often have foundations through which they funnel donations to pet-related causes.



If your company is looking for a new cause this year, consider joining with Petfood Forum and Trouw Nutrition to support and some of its member shelters. bills itself as the oldest and largest searchable directory of adoptable pets on the Web and serves as a portal to over 13,000 animal shelters and adoption groups throughout the US and Canada. Since its inception in 1996, has helped find homes for more than 17 million animals.



Betsy Banks Saul,'s co-founder and president, is delivering the opening keynote address at Petfood Forum on Tuesday, April 3, at the Renaissance Schaumburg just outside Chicago. Shortly after her presentation, pets from one or two of's member shelters in the Schaumburg area will drop by the Renaissance to visit with participants. If they wish, participants can make donations to the shelters or to the Foundation. (The visiting pets might even be available for adoption if you're looking for a new furry friend.)



If you register for Petfood Forum by February 1, you'll receive an early bird discount. If you can't attend the conference, watch this blog,, Petfood Industry magazine or its App and our social media (, Facebook and Twitter) for information on how you can still participate in this important cause.



For cause marketing to be successful, it has to be authentic so consumers view your brand and marketing in a positive light. Fortunately for the petfood industry, the causes we support tend to have that authenticity built in.



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