Feb 02 ,2017
Why the sudden interest in causes? The growing interest in social causes is not so sudden, and definitely not temporary.
As the generation that grew up alongside the internet boom as well as the expansion of CSR (corporate social responsibility) and serious conversations about the environmental impact of consumerism, millennials care about how they impact the world around them. They see that big picture change starts with how they spend their dollars. That’s why some retail brands have found success with cause marketing, despite their for-profit models. ‘Doing well and doing good’ is a mantra for millennials.
Social media has made it possible to have direct impact through seemingly ordinary purchases. These purchases make it easy, and convenient for consumers to make an impact. Efficiency is another reason why millennials are purchasing products and services that make it easier to do more. We’ve seen a growing trends in multipurpose tools such as tinted moisturizer and multimedia capable phones, and tools that just make life easier like “the cloud”. Brands must now offer solutions that serve the consumer and impact a social cause at the same time. Millennials require brands to get involved purposefully, simply giving is no longer enough.
Purpose driven brands that integrate a cause into their business model like TOMS communicate their mission instantly, and exhibit authenticity. (Read more about purpose driven brands.)
Why does this lie on the shoulders of brand and not government? Millennials believe “businesses have financial and technological resources to make change happen”, and millennials want to be involved. In return, millennials “reward brands that behave like good citizens with loyalty and positive word of mouth”.
Millennials are already using tools at hand like social media trying to be part of the solution. Viral campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge allowed millennials to do good by participating from anywhere in the world, as long as they posted their videos on social media. “Two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average” and 9 out of 10 are likely to switch to brands involved with causes.
Tired of hearing about millennials yet? Get ready to hear more for many, many years to come. Millennials are now the “largest living generation” in America and also represent the largest generation in the labor force. As their spending power increases, so must our attention.
And if just by chance you were planning on sitting this one out while the social cause phase passes on through, we’re warning you now, social causes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, Generation Z (Anyone under 20 years old as of now) shares similar views concerning social causes as their predecessors. Cause marketing now requires long term attention and thoughtful involvement from brands like yours.
Here are some model campaigns doing it right.
Jan 10 ,2017
Now that 2016 is behind us, let’s take a look at campaigns we can learn from going into 2017.
REI “Opt Outside”
As park advocates, any campaign promoting park exploration and encouraging active lifestyles warm our hearts. REI listened to consumers’ concerns over commercialization of holiday festivities, and came up with an alternative: ditch the shopping and head outdoors. Although at first glance this may sound counter-productive for a retail brand, it did just what it intended to do: gave consumers a break from consumerism in favor of reconnecting with the outdoors. REI’s brand depends on consumers’ active lifestyles, and by encouraging people to go outside it can increase their need for more outdoor gear, and helps them to become advocates for our public lands. This campaign has been running since 2015 and consistently sparks media interest and loads of engagement across social media. The “Opt Outside” campaign not only targeted consumers, it also involved one other important group – REI employees. Employees were given Black Friday off as REI closed its stores, and they were encouraged to explore the outdoors and share photos on social media, generating plenty of positive social media activity with people in outdoor spaces representing REI.
Key takeaway: Big picture strategy. Too often brands can get drawn in by the temptation to make a sale, and can miss the big picture: sometimes it’s just as important to tap into culture and be part of the conversation. This isn’t guaranteed to lead to direct or immediate sales, but it definitely helps build brand image and loyalty among consumers, which is much harder to capture than a quickie sale on Black Friday.
Columbia “Gear Up Give Back”
Columbia’s cause marketing campaign donated a percentage of sales to local conservation causes, and also partnered with nonprofits to educate shoppers in stores. Shoppers were invited to “Gear Up, Give Back” and could help raise funds simply by making a regular purchase (no extra donations necessary). The campaign resulted in a significant traffic and sales lift and strengthened Columbia’s relationship with popular local non-profits.
Key takeaway: Bring the cause to your consumers Consumers want to help, but want it to be easy and accessible. According to a 2014 study by MSL Group, 69% of millennials worldwide want businesses to facilitate their involvement in addressing social challenges. Campaigns must not only be tied to a cause, but should make it easy for consumers to take part.
Walgreens “Red Nose Day”
Red Nose Day introduced a lighter side to a heavy cause: children’s poverty. Walgreens made fundraising, well, “fun” and kept it light. Red noses were sold across Walgreens stores for $1.00 (how can you not buy one of these and post a selfie?) making it incredibly easy for consumers to get involved. In addition, featured red products were prominently displayed on a dedicated shelf so that customers could purchase additional items that would contribute more funds to the cause.
Key Takeaway: Make it fun! Poverty is a health issue which is relevant to Walgreen’s business mission to ‘Champion Everyone’s Right to be Healthy and Happy’, but that doesn’t mean the campaign can’t be fun. The comedic twist on things is unexpected and inviting. This campaign did an excellent job at facilitating consumer involvement and engagement, and raised over $31.5 million for the cause.
Our favorite campaigns of 2016 stood out, and taught us something. How can you set yourself apart while bringing your cause closer to your consumers this year? We’d be happy to help! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Oct 14 ,2016
Can you tell the difference? Is one better than the other?
Whether one is a better option for your brand over the other is for you to decide, but first you should be able to differentiate between the two to evaluate what they entail, and how each can be designed to perform well in terms of supporting business goals and making a lasting impact for your brand. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, “80% of global consumers agree that business must play a role in addressing societal issues”. The question is no longer if you should be involved in a cause, but how.
Purpose Driven Brands:
Successful purpose-driven brands are businesses that integrate a cause into their business model so well, that there can be no separation between the cause and brand without changing the very essence of the brand.
With a purpose driven brand, business operations are designed to meet a societal, environmental or humanitarian need. TOMS, for example, saw an explosion of success not because of unique style of superior quality of products, or even a lower price point than leading shoe companies, but because it sought to involve its consumer in a business model that countered what anyone was used to. It made money by giving away shoes, and became a brand that sought more than profit. TOMS set out to provide shoes for impoverished children through a sustainable model they called “one-for-one”. Under this model three primary parties benefitted: children living in extreme poverty were provided shoes, TOMS profited through a sustainable business model, and the consumer, as the driving force, could get a comfortable stylish shoe in exchange for “voting for good” with their purchase. Not only did TOMS take on a humanitarian issue, but it extended the opportunity for direct involvement to their consumers, a generation hungry for social change. In fact, 69% of millennials want business to make it easier for them to get involved in societal issues, and TOMS allowed them to do so by simply shopping for a casual pair shoes. The authenticity of TOMS’ commitment to change doesn’t stop with their own success, and it’s reflected in their commitment to invest in the “next generation” of social entrepreneurs. By continuing to invest their profit in social issues, the brand continues to convey the message that their primary goal is change, not profit.
Brands Supporting a Cause:
Brands that do not have an inherent purpose driven business model can still do good by creating a cause marketing campaign, or a temporary relationship with a cause. The key to a successful campaign is making sure the cause is culturally relevant, authentic to the brand, and consumers can get behind it. CVS for example made headlines when it decided to stop selling cigarettes. As a pharmacy, its mission is to connect people with products that help them on their path to better health. As such, tobacco went against their mission and was removed from their shelves. The corresponding campaign communicated that their mission was more important than profit, and that the company is committed to internal change to ensure that their operations align with their mission.
Good Solutions Group has worked with leading brands to create and execute cause marketing campaigns that garnered strong business results. GSG’s secret recipe for its campaigns consist of three main ingredients: involving consumers, driving business results, and choosing the right social cause. By identifying a cause that is inherently tied to the mission of the brand and is important to its consumers, GSG paves the way to help brands give back to a cause that has the potential to make a lasting impact not only for the community, but within the brand and for the consumers. This takes market research, listening and ability to understand the brand and its consumers well. For example, we understood Farmer John to be a brand that produced quality meats, food that brought families together to share meals. Grilling stations in Southern California beach communities needed maintenance, birthing a partnership that led to increased sales, positive PR coverage, and a service for the community.
Whether you’re an established company looking for some help with a cause campaign or a startup looking to change the world, there are plenty of opportunities to give back, build relationships with consumers and improve business. Contact us for a consultation.