Would you pay more for a toaster if you knew a portion of the proceeds were going to aid the fight against breast cancer?

What about a stuffed animal?

From mixing machines to pink Swiffer sheets, there are thousands of pink products on the market that support the fight against breast cancer. But consumers need to do their homework because not all pink products are legitimate.

Around 19 per cent of contributions to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation come from Shop for the Cure sales, its partnership with businesses who sell products through cause marketing programs.

But seeing a pink ribbon on a product isn't a guarantee you're buying products that support the foundation.

"Unfortunately there are companies that want to capitalize on the pink ribbon because we can't trademark every single pink ribbon out there. So it's really important for you to just look at the label -- make sure that a registered charity is on there," said Maya Dimapilis of the CBCF.

To bear the foundation ribbon, companies have to donate at least 10 per cent of the sale proceeds. But find out if it's a fixed amount or a percentage, because some companies may have already hit their maximum donation -- meaning your purchase won't pay it forward.

The success of the cause marketing program draws on the personal connection many of us have with cancer, says Dimapilis.

One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

"Imagine if it was a friend of yours… a mother…an aunt…and if you could buy this product and a percentage of proceeds could go towards helping create that future without breast cancer -- that's quite powerful," said Dimapilis.

Simon Fraser University marketing professor Lindsay Meredith says that emotional connection translates into big sales for companies who align themselves with the cause.

"It works well because everyone's had a mom or a sister. A lot of those moms or sisters have suffered, and you got that combination -- you're onto something live, let me tell you," he said.

Exclusive polling conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion for Steele on Your Side found that 34 per cent of B.C. residents have noticed cause marketing campaigns at local stores.

It's the younger demographic, shoppers aged 18 to 34, that is more likely to buy products linked to benefit causes they believe in, according to the survey.

And women appear to be the key consumers of pink products in B.C., says pollster Mario Canseco.

"Women are really moved by the cause marketing issue and we need to remember that in many cases they are the ones who make the final decision. They are the ones who are at the store looking at the two cans of soup and ‘oh, this can is of soup is going to benefit something I care about, so we're going to buy this now,'" he said.

The CBCF says consumers thinking about buying a pink product should ask themselves five questions about whether it passes its "test of a champion" and is one you can feel good about supporting:

1. Is this company committed?

Read the company website and packaging to make sure the company is credible.

2. How is the program structured?

How much of a contribution is the company making? The foundation seeks to receive 10 per cent, but some companies will guarantee a minimum contribution instead.

3. Who does the program benefit?

Does it support a well-managed, reputable non-profit organization? Refer to the organization's website.

4. How will the organization that benefits use my money?

It should be clear where your funds go and what organizations they are supporting. It's important to know whether funds go to research, education, community programs or all of the above.

5. Is the program meaningful to me?

Does donating to this cause make sense to you? Selecting the right program is a personal choice based on your own interest and passions.

If you're still concerned about the product that you're buying, consider making a direct contribution to the charity instead. This way you know that 100 per cent of your money is reaching the organization.

Watch CTV tonight for a full report from Lynda Steele on cause marketing, and some unique ways local companies are helping the fight against breast cancer…

Have your say: Have you bought a pink product?