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Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

CFA SEPTEMBER 2009 48

CFA SEPTEMBER 2009 48 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE

tion of each credit card charge to the cause was very successful. I clearly remember watching from the roof of our loft building in lower Manhattan as the parade of tall ships from all over the world sailed down the Hudson River past the restored statue, in celebration of that event! However, Cone Inc. claims to have invented the category a year earlier, with a campaign in support of the health benefits of walking, on behalf of a client with an appropriate ëfití Rockport Shoes. From those early days, the growth of CRM has been widespread. Can you give us a few examples of highly successful global Social- Cause Marketing initiatives? What can be the insightful perspectives for marketers and brand managers from these initiatives? Avon, the global cosmetic and jewelry manufacturer, has a female customer base. And Avon is the regular sponsor of the womenís Breast Cancer 3-Day races throughout the US. They expanded this program globally in 2005, with The Avon Walk Around the World for Breast Cancer. They also market ëPink Ribbon products,í such as jewelry, cosmetic cases, etc., with a specified portion of the purchase price earmarked for breast cancer research. This is an ideal CRM partnership, since the corporation and the cause have the same female target, and they can also easily place a causerelated item in their product line. Another example of a cause-related partnership that has a high ëfití between cause and corporation has been formed between global appliance manufacturer Whirlpool and Habitat for Humanity, the cause founded by former US President Jimmy Carter that uses community volunteers to build or renovate homes for the poor. The relationship between Habitat and Whirlpool goes back to 1999. They donate a range and an energy-efficient refrigerator to every home Habitat builds. Over 73,000 have been placed by Whirlpool. They will expand this program globally by 2011. In addition, thousands of Whirlpool employees have contributed their time and skills to helping build Habitat homes. The partnership between a major home appliance manufacturer and homes built to benefit the homeless is ideal. And the employee involvement factor is an important added ëplus.í Whirlpool stresses employee community volunteerism globally. A Whirlpool study in the US indicated that being socially responsible scored in the top five out of fifty possible ëdriversí for brand loyalty among key consumers. Since the start of the campaign, sales were up 39%, while brand loyalty almost doubled. At the same time, Whirlpoolís ëlikeability indexí rose an amazing 154%. A third campaign which I consider highly successful is one undertaken by ConAgra, the second-largest food producer in the US, whose partnership with the hunger-relief organization Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest) for over a decade has distributed food through its Kids Cafes, Community Kitchens, and other facilities to over 25 million hungry Americans, 9 million of whom are children. What makes these three campaigns successful and therefore particularly relevant to marketers, is the fact that they are all ëhigh fití collaborations, with the cause being very appropriate to the corporate partner. Do you consider social marketing to be an effective tool in influencing the buying behavior of the customer? If it succeeds, what is the longevity of this marketing approach? The Cone-Roper report states that upscale Americans are more likely to switch brands (79% vs. 65% national average), and 68% would pay more when a product is associated with a good cause. A 2002 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study reported that 84% of Americans said they ìwould be likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, if price and quality are similar.î I believe that a good campaign can have substantial longevity. Its viability can be determined by periodic market research. INTERVIEW What is the difference between a Social-Cause Marketing initiative and a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, after all? The difference is this: one is a partnership, with the cause partner supplying the reputation, the organization, and the detailed knowledge of the issues involved, and the corporate partner providing the funding and some expert marketing infrastructure, including the ability to make the best and most efficient media buy. On the other hand, a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative is completely the responsibility of the company. I strongly prefer the cause-related partnership because of the synergism between partners. That having been said, I generally advise potential cause partners to do extensive due diligence when they approach a cause-related association. There are corporate entities out there in desperate need of image-burnishing, seeking to ally themselves with a respected cause, for their ëhalo effect.í A leading tobacco company in the US has done this, and markedly improved their public image, often to the regret of their cause partners. If it is blatantly self-serving, it can only increase consumer cynicism, to the detriment of better-intentioned cause partnerships. Studies reveal that social marketing helps in differentiating oneís brands, increasing market share and gain more brand loyalty. Despite these benefits, social marketing spending is less when compared with conventional marketing. What are your views on it? I believe strongly in the benefits of social marketing you have described. But they can seem somewhat intangible to many corporate marketers when compared to product-centred sales pitches. This is particularly true in a declining economy, such as we are experiencing globally. Hopefully, as corporate bottom lines improve and marketers become more sophisticated, we will see an upturn in social marketing as well. Do we need to (create?) exclusive social marketing initiatives, when the businesses in general are ex- SEPTEMBER 2009 49 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE

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