3 Cause Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2021

The world is in transition. If someone had said 10 months ago that we’d be walking around wearing masks, frightened of breathing in our friends’ exhales at yoga class, and seeing retail store after retail store shut down for good, we would’ve laughed the whole thing off as the antics of a lunatic.

The Covid-19 global pandemic has savagely redefined normality. And e-commerce has boomed as a result, as more businesses have had to move online — which has cluttered up the online space all the more. If it was difficult to stand out in 2019, how is a business supposed to get noticed in 2021?

Cause marketing has some powerful answers. And we want to discuss 3 cause marketing trends that are influential and compelling to customers in 2021 and likely for years to come!

3 Cause Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2021

Crisis begets innovation. What matters to us as humans and as consumers is shifting. New causes are taking center stage. And consumers’ demands on businesses are changing.

More than ever, shoppers are asking that brands stand for something because they stand for something — and they want their purchases to matter.

As people adapt to this new world, so must e-commerce brands. 

Our veering reality presents an opportunity for companies to respond in a way that resonates with customers aching for connection and meaning in the marketplace.

Now’s the time to hone in on human-centric initiatives, like augmenting the customer experience, rather than lazily selling without heart. Brands can reach out their hands authentically into the internet void — and find that it increases brand loyalty and ultimately bumps up their bottom line.

Let’s get into it.

1. Purpose and Trust Are Now Necessary

Generation Z and Alpha in particular, together with Millennials, actively engage in conversations around social issues from race to gender and climate change. It follows that these consumers consciously seek out brands whose values align with theirs and prefer to buy from them rather than their irresolute competitors. 

The mission of a socially conscious brand combines profit with societal impact — and this is a growing trend. Use your brand’s values and purpose to guide your response to a crisis (like Covid-19) and societal shifts (like the Black Lives Matter movement).

And almost 4 in 5 people could cite a time a brand responded positively to the pandemic and 1 in 5 strongly agreed it led to increased brand loyalty on their part, according to research by Deloitte.

The lesson: Be vocal and visible about the causes you support on social media, your website, and other communications.

Building trust is done by aligning intentions with actions. Beyond delivering what you promise in terms of what you sell, if your brand tells customers it cares about a cause, cause marketing is a clear and strong way to show it and prove it.

It’s no wonder that when brands deliver on their promises, shoppers are more than twice as likely to buy from the same brand again.

This makes sense given that 95% of purchasing decisions are driven by emotion (per Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman).

Conversely, brands that don’t walk the talk and fail to meet promises can erode their audience’s trust and eventually feel the burn in their profits. 

One-third of all consumers will stop buying their preferred products if they lose trust in the brand, according to IBM’s 2020 Purpose and Provenance Drive Bigger Profits for Consumer Goods.

Segmenting customers based on values, rather than quantitative factors like demographics, is a path toward deepening relationships and ultimately lifting sales. With Shop for Good by DailyKarma, you can export customer insights and remarket shoppers based on causes they’ve supported through your store.

And don’t forget social media, where Millennial and Gen Z customers abound and love to shop. Be vocal about your values on social platforms — particularly through voice and video — to attract new audiences and retain existing fans.

“With a quarter of Millennials and Gen Z users looking to stories for information about brands and products, and with social media platforms exploring more and more ways for users to connect shopping to this experience, I only expect it to grow in 2021. The biggest challenge for brands is to look for new ways to create innovative content that will stand out and stop their followers from scrolling.” – Mireille Ryan, CEO, Social Media Marketing Institute

Owning your purpose gives your brand a unique advantage to pivot and even gain new customers at an economically tumultuous time when so many companies are losing them. Adding segmentation to the mix adds another layer of future-proofness to your brand.

2. Agility

Agility has become a strong advantage during a year where businesses have had to move online or die, and online businesses have had to evolve to thrive (or even stay relevant). 

The ability to move quickly, iterate, and respond to current events shows customers you can meet their needs and give them a pleasant experience with your brand. In fact, 66% of customers agree that the Covid-19 pandemic made them more appreciative of well-designed technology, Deloitte found.

It’s easy to boast about agility when you have a large team and plenty of resources — but what if you don’t have extra time or funds to spare right now?

Good news: You can launch a timely cause marketing campaign that meets your customers where they are in under 10 minutes with Shop for Good.

Log into your Shopify store and launch in 3 steps:

  • Pick your give-back campaign (give a portion of proceeds OR invite customers to donate in a variety of ways)
  • Select a nonprofit to support through the Shop for Good dashboard
  • Customize your widget & connect 

Staying relevant helps you rise above the clutter. And responding to current events through cause marketing is a winning way to get an edge over your competitors who continue to merely push their products. 

An agile strategy allows you to pivot at critical times and meet your customers where they are mentally and emotionally, enhancing their experience with your brand. 

Whether you decide to change things up and run a campaign benefiting LGBTQ+ communities, efforts to reverse climate change, or animal shelters, Shop for Good makes it easy and fast to respond thoughtfully to world events while helping meet your customers’ needs. 

Incorporating cause marketing into your strategy helps turn your brand into a thought leader that’s memorable and impactful in a sea of ho-hum sellers. It changes the game.

See how some of our brand partners have been leveraging different Shop for Good campaigns to engage their customers in giving during the 2020 holiday season:

Peace Out Skincare

Girlfriend Collective

And what’s great is you don’t need to give away proceeds to make a difference and meet your customers’ needs. Shop for Good democratizes giving with campaigns like Donation Tiers and lets you invite your shoppers to generously support laudable causes through your brand, elevating your brand and your customers’ human experience while bolstering customer loyalty. 

You can mirror and support your customers’ values by letting them donate rather than having to donate your profits — and with a campaign like Donate for Discount, where you offer a discount as a reward for a donation, we’ve seen AOV and cart conversions rise time and time again (see our case studies on Ivory EllaJohn Masters Organics, and Bubba Rose).

3. Customer (Human) Experience

We are wired for connection. And during a pandemic where many people living alone exist in seclusion, customers are hungry to connect not just with people they know but companies too. Deloitte found that 56% of people want a more “human” experience from virtual environments like online stores.

The pandemic and a reckoning of systemic racism coming to a head have all changed our lives drastically and quickly — and influenced what we expect of companies we give our money to. As we trudge through moments of high stress and low certainty, all we have to hold onto is the present and each other. 

It’s more important than ever to forge a connection with your audience. Polls show that as times get tougher, customers expect more from the brands they patronize.

And meaningfully, more than 25% of people polled by Deloitte who noticed brands acting in their own self-interest (e.g., by raising prices on essential items) walked away from those brands.

In turn, 58% of respondents could recall at least one brand that quickly pivoted to better respond to their needs, and 82% said this led to them doing more business with the brand.

Cause marketing is a unique and philanthropic way to engage your audience in a mutually beneficial relationship. 

It’s a way to respond to consumers’ needs. And it’s one of the most rousing: overwhelmingly, customers say they are most motivated to engage when they feel their participation will help others.

The message is clear: people expect companies to authentically help meet their needs — and reward the brands that do by buying their products. 

So try a Shop for Good campaign that invites your shoppers to give back. Donate for Discount is consistently shown to increase AOV and cart conversions, Round-Up is a classic, and our newest way to give — Donation Tiers — is now one of our most popular campaigns!

Cause marketing trends for a better world

Who knows what we’ll face in 2021? Or 2030, for that matter? What we do know is that we need each other and caring is a positive thing — and here to stay.

Brands that are anchored in their values naturally have more staying power because their employees give a damn and their customers give a damn, which keeps everyone coming back again and again to support the cause.

“As people engage in deeper activities, they also participate in them more frequently.” – Deloitte.

The motivation? A desire to help.

More and more consumers these days want to do good — especially through philanthropy. And we’re here to help you be a part of this altruism revolution.

Go beyond product & price with purpose & impact.

Turn the social causes you care about most, into engaging ecommerce experiences that deliver meaningful impact and measurable business results.

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