When we think of cause marketing most of us visualize some type of purchase that supports a cause – a few of the more well-know such as ‘RED’ the Bono supported initiative to end AIDS in Africa by buying RED branded items like T-Shirts, sneakers, and even a phone. A variety of manufacturers work with RED and it is a very successful program. There are many other like Warby-Parker who donate a pair of glasses for every pair purchased and Tom’s Shoes who donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. I’m sure you can think of some you’ve seen as well; by purchasing a specific item you are supporting a cause.
Currently there is a big push to get people to purchase a special chalice (really that’s what they call them!) from Stella Artois brewing to support the efforts of water.org to bring clean, safe drinking water to the entire world. When you purchase a single chalice for $13.00+shipping from Amazon, Stella Artois will donate $3.13 to water.org which will supply drinking water to one person for FIVE years. Yep you read that correctly five years which works out to about 63¢ per year, obviously economies of scale are involved to make this work, but overall, it’s a heck of a good investment. In fact, since you probably don’t need or maybe even want a special Stella Artois chalice, why not donate the entire $13 to water.org and provide drinking water to over four people for five years?
Well, sadly that doesn’t seem to work as well. In fact, the whole concept of cause-marketing is designed to get people who might not usually donate, to do so or give more than they would normally, by offering a premium or ‘gift’ as an incentive; you might say we are just bribing people to do ‘the right thing’.
But cause marketing is more than that; at its core it is a mutually beneficial relationship between a business, a cause and the consumer. For a business, finding and supporting a cause that is important to them personally or aligns with their business values goes beyond just making a donation. While increasing awareness about a cause, the business is solidifying their brand loyalty. As statistics have proven over and over, people will buy a brand that supports a cause that is important to them.
The most common formats for cause/partner marketing are:
1) Buy One-Give One as described above this is the model that both Warby-Parker and Tom’s Shoes use, purchase the product and the manufacture directly provides a like product to needy individual,
2) Purchase a product and the manufacturer makes a donation to the associated cause, this is the model for the Stella Artois and water.org partnership and what RED uses,
3) Make a donation and get a coupon for a discount or free item or the item itself, and this is of course the very popular model used by Public Television and Radio.
While each model has its pros and cons for the most part they all work, in that the cause benefits from the purchase and the business benefits in both brand loyalty and possibly new customers. Moreover, it works because it allows the purchaser an opportunity to be altruistic while providing them with a reward for doing so. Without a doubt rewards are certainly the incentive that many of us need—whether that’s to file our taxes on time, make a healthier eating choice or support a worthy cause.
Whatever the motive, cause-marketing offers businesses and nonprofits the opportunity to work together to impact the world. Brands can start the conversation about a cause while increasing their bottom line and community standing. Each of these methods can be adapted to your business and favorite cause.
If you are a business of any size find a cause that has meaning to you and work together with a local nonprofit to implement one of the ideas, we outlined above or create something completely uniquely your own and let us know about it!
To read more about the Stella Artois and water.org program visit https://water.org/stellaartois/
About the Author Leslie Riehm is the Vice President Corporate Communications at Digital Donations, Inc. Connect with Leslie and Digital Donations on Linked-In and follow her on Twitter.