Saturday, October 10, 2009
Impact of Social Cause marketing campaigns on branding
The research shows, when forming a decision about buying a product or service from a particular company or organization, 83% of the general public feel it is ‘very’ or ‘fairly important’ that a company shows a high degree of social responsibility. Social issues, such as climate change, corruption, election, healthcare and education add to the mix of changes in the expectation of general public. Clearly marketing can ignore these changes in the business and consumer environment, but it does so at its peril.
Consumers not only vote with their feet and their purse against companies and brands they disapprove of, but evidence shows they will also actively change their behavior in favor of those companies of which they approve. In the past, positive differentiation in price, quality and functionality was what was required for success. This is no longer enough and barely noticeable in many sectors anyway. Often, depending on the sector, price, functionality and quality can be replicated – perhaps within weeks or a month, maybe a year – but they are no longer the tools that will maintain differentiation in the longer run.
Emotional engagement and values, on the other hand, are much harder to develop, much harder to replicate and, once established, much more embedded and harder to shift. Investing in values and a ‘bank of goodwill’ can therefore pay dividends. As brand management evolves, values are becoming the key differentiator. The question is does it work? Does taking such a values-led/cause-led approach deliver bottom-line benefits?
The answer is yes. Marketing related to a cause, if done sincerely and executed well, provides a win-win-win. A win for the business, a win for the cause issues or charity and a win for society. One of most successful Cause-related marketing (CRM) programs run by P&G is a partnership between Pampers and UNICEF. Here for every pack of Pampers that a consumer buys, we contribute 1 tetanus vaccine to developing countries. The collaboration has helped raise awareness for the need for tetanus vaccines in developing countries as well as reassured consumers that we have partners with the requisite expertise to execute this. Further, the UNICEF association underlines Pampers equity as a brand that cares about babies. Take the case of Tata Tea, it’s Jago Re campaign started last year with educating citizens regarding realizing their voting power. And it has started a corruption oriented campaign now a day. And Tata Tea has been benefited in the similar lines.
Cause marketing leaders recognize that business and society are linked, and therefore have a unique challenge and opportunity to make a positive impact on society, while also boosting short-term sales, long-term reputation gains and stakeholder loyalty.
Cause-related marketing is a strategy whose time has come. Links with social issues, if made sincerely and professionally, will reap rewards. Do it badly and the consequences could be disastrous, but do it well and success will follow.