Archivo del February, 2014

Societal marketing: focus & alignment

Ideally, what characteristics should a company’s societal-marketing project have? As long as we’re doing societal marketing, how can we do it better? This is a top-priority question for the managers in our programmes.

We already know many things. Jordi Torrents shows us how to manage a brand’s social dimension in order to boost brand differentiation and customer loyalty. Following in the footsteps of James E. Austin, Juan Mezo seeks to align causes with the mission and values of an organisation.

These are solid recommendations – even more so when we compare them with real projects. Let’s take a look at two Spanish projects that we analysed recently:

  • Muebles Boom have undertaken many marketing actions: they promote the fact that their manufacturing is 100% local, that their low-cost strategy prevents them from providing customer service by telephone, and that they engage in controversial, media-savvy promotional offers such as “Furniture for €1”. They complement all of this with societal marketing:
    • Food for soup kitchens: Every piece of furniture sold comes with a label that indicates the number of meals donated.
    • Kisses against domestic violence: The company organises a national kissing championship on Valentine’s Day and donates €10 to a women’s foundation for every participant and €1 for every photo shared. The participants in the three longest kisses at the store win trips to the Dominican Republic, Venice and Paris.
  • Compañía Cervecera de Canarias, a subsidiary of the SABMiller Group, has positioned itself with “Ten Priorities, One Future”, an enormous programme aimed at discouraging irresponsible alcohol consumption, producing beverages with less water, reducing the company’s energy and carbon footprint, encouraging the reuse and recycling of packaging, respecting human rights, contributing to the struggle against AIDS in the company’s area of influence, increasing transparency, and doing business ethically: …uff!. Among other things.

How can these two companies optimise their programmes to give customers more differentiated value and create a perception of alignment with their mission and values? It’s not as easy as it looks.

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Conscious consumerism: shop by cause

The decision tree is an extremely important concept in marketing today. It allows us to visualise how customers mentally structure the decision-making process for every choice they make, from what snack to eat to which cardiologist to visit. This consumer insight has given rise to shopper marketing and category management: stores and websites are being adapted to make the process easy for customers, so that they find what they’re looking for quickly and spend more money.

Today, the decision tree is powering an exciting trend at the intersection of marketing and society: the “shop by cause” concept. Tell me what causes you’re interested in, and I’ll offer solutions tailored to each one.

Some organisations have just started to develop this idea. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers “anti-cruelty” and “anti-puppy mill” gadgets. Building Lives Up (BLU) has taken the model to a more sophisticated level by offering customers non-traditional ways to help charity organisations raise cash: a supermarket featuring products related to 32 very different causes.

“Shop by cause” is becoming professionalised at private companies. Philosophy, a line of cosmetics featured on “Oprah’s Favorite Things”, offers an innovative shopping menu: “shop by category” (hair care, shower gel, etc.), “shop by scent” (fruits, blooms, tropical, etc.) and “shop by cause” (women’s cancer, Rainforest Foundation, WhyHunger, etc.).

Toms Shoes has taken it a step further with its “One for One” model. Going beyond this innovative cause-related marketing approach, last November the company launched Toms Marketplace. At this new website, people can shop by the causes they care about as well as by product type. The site offers a different shopping menu for each of the 34 brands sold on the Marketplace, but shoppers can also browse by region or by social cause. The causes – animals, children, education, health, job creation, nutrition, social justice, water, women – were defined using insights obtained from the decision tree.

Aware that the appetite for conscious consumerism is on the rise, Toms Marketplace offers a different way to shop. Private companies are optimising their marketing; NGOs ought to follow their lead.

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