December is well underway, and naturally we’re seeing some companies ace their holiday marketing campaigns while others struggle. Sales and promotions capture the attention of many shoppers, but there are other ways to get noticed that build your brand instead of undercutting it. A tactic that has popped up more and more in various forms is cause marketing. It demonstrates your brand’s values, endearing you to shoppers and generating positive buzz. We know that cause marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, when done well, are extremely effective. According to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study…
Here we’ll take a look at a few businesses that are using holiday marketing campaigns to give back to their customers and to larger communities.
This one is almost old news by now, but we have to mention it. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing brand, caused shock waves when they announced that they would donate all the proceeds of their retail and online Black Friday sales to environmental organizations. This bold move rejected profits for a day but created new fans and cemented loyalty for a lifetime.
In the words of Patagonia’s president and CEO, Rose Macario, “Patagonia reached a record-breaking $10 million in sales. We expected to reach $2 million in sales—we beat that expectation five times over…Along with many loyal customers, the initiative attracted thousands who have never purchased anything from Patagonia before.”
For the past few years, Zappos, the online shoe, clothing, and accessory behemoth, has been sponsoring free pet adoptions during the Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend. The promotion, called Home for the Pawlidays, is interesting is that it’s not that directly related to Zappos’s core business, which historically has been shoes. While the retailer sells pet accessories, the adoption campaign may be equally aimed at giving shoppers warm, fuzzy feelings about how Zappos is helping needy cats and dogs find a home. In effect, it’s a three-pronged move: sell pet supplies, help out a good cause, and show your audience that you care.
Everlane is a direct-to-consumer clothing and accessories line that’s made a name for itself by selling quality goods at reasonable prices. They’re all about “radical transparency” and communicate openly with their audience about their supply chain, pricing, and other aspects of their business.
While Everlane has cause marketing as a root principle of their business, their holiday campaign is about giving back to their fans and customers instead. They’ve launched a “Dear Everlane” promotion, in which members of their community are encouraged to write to the company with a wish that Everlane may just grant.
One Everlane fan wrote in, saying that her mother–a cancer survivor–admires the brand’s cashmere sweaters, and has never owned a cashmere sweater before. Just like Santa, Everlane’s team is granting her holiday wish.
For a consumer’s and marketer’s point of view on Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, don’t miss “Where Black Friday Went Wrong: A Personal Take.” Also, click here for lessons from Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016.
Cause marketing isn’t too risky when environmental or social issues are involved, but things shift when politics get into the mix. Nonetheless, throughout this November and December, many brands have come out to support potentially divisive groups and missions, including the anti-pipeline protests in Standing Rock, North Dakota as well as Planned Parenthood. It’s been especially common for mid-market and independent retailers, who don’t have as broad a customer base to risk alienating.
Jewelry designer Pamela Love, whose wares are sold in stores like Barneys, has been one of these sellers making a statement. Her business recently ran a promotion during which 5% of all sales were donated to support the Women’s March on Washington.
While there definitely are consumers out there who admire Love’s jewelry but dislike her politics, her alignment creates a stronger sense of identity and community among those shoppers who do share her opinions. This is a move that builds long-term customer loyalty while–depending on your opinion–doing good as well.
As you digest these examples, think about your other marketing strategies for next year, too. Here are a few guides to get you started: