It is October and as every year we not only find Halloween stuff at our local shopping malls and retailers but also a huge amount of pink displays, pink packaging, pink everything. October is the month dedicated to creating awareness for breast cancer and marketers increasingly use it as a platform to foster brand loyalty among their female customer base.
Cause marketing gained momentum in the last years and the Breast Cancer Awareness Month is only one of many different platforms. In this article, shoppernewsblog provides reasons for engaging in cause marketing, introduces some best practices along the path to purchase and gives advice on how to design your very own program.
Every 13 minutes a woman dies from breast cancer in the United States alone and 1 in 8 women will receive this dreadful diagnoses during her lifetime¹. Nevertheless, according to the Cancer Institute of Florida, early detection helps to increase chances of survival to up to 98% for the next 5 years as compared to 27% for advanced stage breast cancer¹. Hence, regular check-ups are real lifesavers instead of annoying necessities.
Apart from these encouraging stats, shoppers increasingly demand corporations to become involved in their communities and to contribute to good causes²:
- “86% of survey respondents said they want to have businesses in their communities that are committed to social issues”
- “79% of Americans would switch from one brand to another brand of a comparable product (and price) if the latter brand was associated with “good cause””
- “30% of Americans have recommended a product or company after hearing about a company’s commitment to social issues”
Besides the positive effects on brand image and customer loyalty, there are other benefits companies should consider when evaluating a possible cause marketing campaign. With respect to shopper marketing, brands can for example use cause marketing to foster relationships with retailers by developing tailored platforms while retailers could drive traffic to specific categories or areas in store. Furthermore, cause marketing can be used for tax purposes or to get rid of excess inventory².
However, in order to ensure the success of a cause marketing campaign, companies are advised to communicate their commitment along the entire path to purchase.
Last October, Tic Tac launched a Facebook fan page on which users could nominate care givers, persons who help individuals diagnosed of cancer. As users were required to actually write a recommendation, Tic Tac was satisfied with the 71 nominees received. Moreover, according to clickz.com, the fan page recruited some additional 23,700 fans (+22% growth) during the promotion and generated some 167 total engagements³.
P&G and the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. together created the Give Hope campaign, an initiative that “encourages women to take early detection measures in the fight against breast cancer“⁴. On Facebook users can create a virtual “hand” which will be posted on their timeline and can be used as a cover photo showing their commitment to taking early detection exams. For each hand, P&G will donate $1 up to $25,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Moreover, users can create online their customized early detection plan and download a self-exam guide.
Brands also discovered big events for promoting their engagement in cause marketing.
For example, online web hosting company Go Daddy paints its NASCAR racing car pink during October and dresses its driver Danica in a pink firesuit. Together with its industry partner Public Interest Registry, the company will donate a $50,000 check to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Also, customers are encouraged to take part in the “Round Up for Charity” program by rounding up their purchases to the nearest dollar⁵.
Macy’s opens some 350 pop-up boutiques called “Pink Shop” selling pink products, including fashion, cosmetics and home merchandise from participating designers and brands. The pink leopard print top to the right for example sells for U$ 59.50 of which 5% will be donated directly to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation⁶.
Kroger is already committed for years to help raise awareness for the topic. According to Shopper Marketing Magazine, Kroger raises some $3 million each year and creates a strong visual appeal with the pink packaging of participating brands⁷. Also, the company publishes stories of employees who survived breast cancer on the dedicated website Sharing Courage. Moreover, during the month of October, shoppers find coin boxes at the cash registers to be able to contribute to the program by donating their change.
The Breast Cancer Awareness Month is only one of many cause marketing platforms brands can use to demonstrate their commitment to the society and to create loyalty among their shoppers. Companies should however evaluate carefully when and where to get involved as half-hearted approaches are punished fiercely.
According to Entrepreneur.com, marketers should bear in mind the following five recommendations⁸:
1. Give from the heart – Choose a cause that deeply touches your employees. A cause marketing program without committed employees will only result in failure.
2. Choose a related cause – Select a cause which matches your company or brand. For example, “Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand skin-care line partnered with the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, its campaign goal was to inspire women to protect their skin from the sun“⁸.
3. Contribute more than dollars – Pantene takes part in the Breast Cancer Awareness Month but instead of merely donating funds to a charity they encourage customers to donate hair for wigs. The brand thus, participates in a relevant cause marketing platform but also adjusts it to its very own brand reality.
4. Formalize your affiliation – Agree with your NGO partner how to communicate the collaboration to achieve a maximum impact. Mutual appearances in each others communications and joint promotions have a positive effect for both parties.
5. Mount a marketing campaign – To reach the audience most touched by the cause, companies are advised to design an IMC which targets the communication channels your audience actually uses. Otherwise, nobody will find out about your commitment and the positive effects on sales and customer loyalty will be diminished.
Is your company engaging in cause marketing? Share your experience with us by commenting below.