Cause Marketing in Self Storage

August 2, 2023

People planting trees due to cause marketing.
7 min

Everyone loves to support a cause. It makes you feel good about yourself, or what you’ve done, and it even helps you feel just a little bit more hopeful about the world.

One of the great opportunities brands and companies share is the ability to make an impact with their business. Of course, we all have that opportunity, though companies and corporations have learned that giving and getting sometimes go hand in hand. 

Before understanding how cause marketing can impact your facility, defining and understanding what we’re talking about is crucial!


Defining Cause Marketing

Cause marketing has had several definitions since its initial conception, and that’s because it’s not all that old. 

The first case of American cause marketing was in 1973 by 7-Eleven, following the passage of the Endangered Species Act, the company decided to donate one cent for every drink sold at their gas stations. The campaign was so successful that the National Wildlife Federation built a bald eagle sanctuary from the proceeds. 

Since then, cause marketing has swept across the globe, with participation from major brands like Coca-Cola, American Express, and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. The list goes on!

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In the late 1980’s the Journal of Marketing defined cause marketing as “the process of formulating and implementing marketing activities that are characterized by an offer from the firm to contribute a specified amount to a designated cause when customers engage in revenue-providing exchanges that satisfy organizational and individual objectives.”

Traditionally, cause marketing was defined as the partnership between a brand and a non-profit organization, and while that’s still absolutely a style of cause marketing, the definition has expanded.

Since then, has reclaimed and updated the definition to say “a type of corporate responsibility in which a company’s promotional campaign has the dual purpose of increasing profitability and bettering society.”

We can see that the definition is broadening over time, and that’s what’s so exciting about participating in cause marketing, you’re still at the beginning of something huge. It may not be “new,” but it certainly isn’t ancient. 

Our friends at HubSpot decided to expand the definition even further, they define cause marketing as “...where businesses align themselves with social issues or beliefs that are important to them and execute a campaign accordingly. Companies use this tactic to bring awareness to a cause and show social responsibility.”

There seems to be a trend where cause marketing becomes more and more philanthropic, and less about selling your product. Do we think major corporations have become less greedy? 

Of course not!

The truth is that the majority of people will side with or buy from a company that aligns with their values, or that they feel is making a difference. This isn’t just common sense, there are cold, hard numbers to back it up.


Cause Marketing Statistics

Cause marketing has been climbing in popularity since its breakthrough introduction in the late 70s. In fact, 3.96 billion dollars was projected to be spent by brands for their cause marketing in 2022. 

There’s no wonder, either, why more and more brands are investing in cause marketing. As a matter of fact, now 91% of customers would prefer to support a socially conscious or philanthropic company. That’s more than 9 out of every 10 people! What’s even more incredible about this number, in 1993 it was only 66% of customers, so what made these numbers jump nearly 30% in only a few decades?

Not only are customers willing to support your business if you rally behind a cause, but 28% of customers are willing to publicly praise a brand for it! 

Cause marketing is more than just contributing to a cause, it’s about being a face for it. When you publicly support a charity or movement, you’re now a representative for that cause.

That’s important too, because championing a cause helps build trust with your customers or tenants, and that matters! 81% of the modern market now insists that a brand earns their trust, that’s 4 in every 5 people beginining their customer journey as skeptics! What are you doing to earn their trust?

The truth is this: if you’re not already building trust with your tenants, someone else might be already. 64% of people are willing to switch brands if their beliefs align more with another company. 

The market is getting younger and younger, and the differences between millennials and boomers are noteworthy, to say the least. For example, 71% of millennials are willing to pay more if it means they’re supporting a worthwhile cause. That’s the majority! 

Cause marketing is a win-win, you’ll make more loyal tenants and customers while giving back and making the world a better place. That’s a rare opportunity! 

Cause Marketing Statistics Breakdown:

  • 3.96 billion dollars was projected to be spent in 2022 on cause marketing
  • 91% of customers prefer a socially/environmentally conscious brand
  • 81% of customers demand that a brand earn their trust
  • 64% of customers are willing to switch brands for a more conscious company
  • 28% of customers are willing to publicly praise a brand
  • 71% of millennials are willing to pay more for a brand they trust

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Cause Marketing in Self Storage

Now that we’ve established cause marketing is not only viable but undeniably effective, it’s time to talk about how it looks in the world of self storage!

If you’re a single operator or a smaller operation in general, odds are that you don’t have a billion-dollar budget to show the world how you’re dedicated to making it better, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a lasting outreach.

So what are some of the ways you can give back in self storage?

Ultimately the choice is up to you how you engage with cause marketing at your facility, but if you’re overwhelmed, there are some sure-footed places to start.

For a lot of people, connecting to charity and giving back means partnering with Storage Gives, a self storage based charity where you’re able to decide what percentage of your rentals you’d be willing to donate, and the proceeds go to four main causes.

Storage Gives Supports:

  • Providing clean drinking water
  • Malnutrition in children
  • Medical research and relief
  • Assisting veterans

Storage Gives partners with handfuls of charities that directly support these causes, and you have the opportunity to join the movement.

Not only is Storage Gives a worthwhile foundation to support, but you’re then able to tell your tenants that a portion of their rent goes towards international charity. This not only raises trust in your facility, but it also gives people more peace of mind with rental rates, knowing their money is also benefiting causes they care about. Before you worry about how much you’re expected to donate, that rate is entirely set by you!

In other cases, we’ve seen facilities choose to invest in more local causes, like our friends at Ohana Self Storage, your impact doesn’t have to reach the corners of the world to be effective and worthwhile.

Sometimes cause marketing is as simple as donating a unit to a non-profit, or taking up food donations at your facility. A smaller operation is still the change in the world that your tenants want to see.

The ways your facility can give back is ultimately limitless, you have the freedom to choose the cause that represents you and your brand best! 

Our friends at Pinnacle Storage proudly work alongside smaller and national non-profits, mostly focusing on bringing relief during the holidays (with other wonderful exceptions). Not only does this cause seem worthwhile, but now Pinnacle Storage is now a figurehead for their community during the holiday season.

Of course, there’s financial gain to be made from cause marketing, as we’ve seen from the earlier statistics, the majority of people are willing to choose a brand that aligns with their beliefs!

We think it’s bigger than that, though, it’s a chance to make self storage a force for good, and you’re at the forefront of the movement now!

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It’s clear that cause marketing works

Whether you want to eradicate hunger or provide shelter for veterans, it’s your chance to make your facility a force for good and raise profits and community trust in the meantime. 

With culture moving towards activism, especially with younger and younger tenants flocking to your facility, now is your chance to join the conversation!

What will you put your name on?

For more self storage articles, take a look at:

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