“Good intentions are wonderful,” says the author Steve Randazzo at the opening of chapter 7 of his best selling book “Brand Experiences: Building Connections in the Digitally Cluttered World.” However, companies should not support charity causes only to gain consumers’ approval through these partnerships. The more brands understand their role in making the world a better place, the better. It is important to recognize that consumers expect more from brands than offering reliable products at reasonable prices. They want to do business with brands that care about people and the world. Businesses seem to stick to the passive involvement of charity causes by writing massive checks. While there is nothing wrong with this, and an abundant donation is always welcome, you need to take a more proactive role to gain customer loyalty and build experience-based emotional connections.
But before you engage in a disaster relief campaign, evaluate the situation to find out whether your company’s help would be authentic, welcome, and useful. One of the best examples of charitable brand outreach done right is Tide’s “Loads of Hope” program. When hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, many families were forced to spend days wearing the same unwashed clothes. They were so busy securing food, water, and shelter that they didn’t have time to wash anything. For this reason, Tide created a mobile laundromat and sent it into the region to help victims of the disaster regain a sense of normal life. A truck equipped with 32 washers and dryers cleaned more than 300 loads of laundry a day, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to optimize the placement in areas that could help the most people. After its success in Katrina relief, Tide continued with this campaign, helping people hit by various natural disasters. This brand still enjoys the benefits of being a donor and participating actively in affected areas.
Tide provides an authentic experience most people don’t see as marketing, but it is surely building a brand experience and reaching consumers on an emotional level – a huge win for Tide!
Align with a Cause
Nowadays, Millennials, the largest generation in US history, are reaching their prime spending years. This is also a highly socially aware generation concerned with the environment and social justice. Therefore, companies that do not listen to Millennial demands and adjust to their habits will miss out on the largest piece of the consumer pie. This generation expects brands to share their concerns. Statistics show that 91% of Millennials gravitate towards companies that support a cause and back up their convictions with cash. So brands need to stand for something to attract this consumer group.
The best way to reach out to Millenials is to join the growing number of companies involved in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Patagonia is a perfect example of successful CSR (and CSR-based marketing). As an outdoor apparel and equipment brand, Patagonia expresses its love for the environment in several creative and engaging ways, starting with its website.
When you first visit their page, it’s apparent that the brand is serious about its CSR. It is easy to see that this brand wants to help its customers save the world, and it hopes their products will help make that goal a reality. Over the years, the company has generated countless articles and videos about its social and environmental passions. The company’s blog is crammed with posts about nature, fair trade, and environmental events. Patagonia doesn’t just generate one-way content, though. It goes out of its way to create numerous interactions between the brand and customers. The company empowers its fans to live by their own values and principles by building powerful brand experience, enabling both sides to work together to tackle the issues they care about.
For example, they created a program called “Action Works,” which serves as a matchmaker for cause-minded consumers. Visitors enter their location details on the Action Works site, specifying the genres of causes that matter to them. In exchange, they receive a list of organizations they can join. By doing this and refusing to advertise the brand in conventional ways, Patagonia has built a strong base of brand fanatics.
CSR and cause marketing are not new concepts, but Millennials, accompanied by digital technology, have recently put these concepts under the limelight. Modern consumers notice false intentions instantly. Companies that commit to a cause with only money on their mind are spotted easily. The only brands worse than the ones that do not care are those that pretend to care. Therefore, you need to use a polling process to identify an authentic area where your brand can help and find proactive ways to make a difference in people’s lives. Make sure to share your meaningful mission with customers to start creating long-lasting emotional bonds. Show through your actions that you are passionate about the same causes as them and attract an array of loyal customers.
All the experiential examples the author has mentioned have successfully aligned brands with causes with a brand experience connection. Each example showed how a brand played an active role in a community or a place of need. They didn’t just talk – they walked the walk, hoping consumers will follow their lead and form emotional connections along the way.
One of the campaigns that sparked an immediate reaction was the one created by PetSmart, where cashiers asked customers to donate a dollar for PetSmart charities to end pet homelessness. Of course, this campaign was an instant success, and here is why. This brand takes its CSR efforts a step beyond. The cashiers here don’t just promote a social mission; they empower shoppers to identify with the cause. This creates a brand experience and an emotional connection that puts consumer activism at the center. Furthermore, PetSmart’s target audience is obviously in the right state of mind. They are surrounded by pet-related products, adoptable animals, and fellow pet lovers. Also, the timing of the request is impeccable. These people couldn’t be more primed for pet-driven happiness. Thanks to the cashier, this is a human-to-human question, and people cannot just ignore this request. If you want to decline the request, you have to look the cashier in the eyes and refuse to help helpless, homeless puppies and kittens.
Another great way to motivate people to do good deeds is to offer them fair trade. Steve Radanzzo’s company helped Disney launch an experiential program, “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day”. In return for completing a day of service at one of several participating charities, Disney agreed to give volunteers a free one-day ticket to a Disney park. Volunteers who didn’t use their tickets could even donate them to other charities. Disney hoped to inspire 1 million people to volunteer by the end of the first year of the campaign; the goal was achieved in 67 days.
And these brands were right. Modern consumers want to be activists and see themselves as forces of good in this world. And your brand can provide that spark to invite customers to take the next step. You will achieve this in two ways:
- Reach out to them through the human interaction, don’t rely on a digital call to action to bring a massive turnout
- Propose a fair trade
“By combining a human touch and equal trade, you can transform would-be activists into empowered champions of your CSR efforts.”
This summary provided you with insight into the main concepts the author presented in the “Inspire” part of his book. Here, Steve Radanzzo used multiple successful socially engaged campaigns to show the importance of being proactive in tackling various burning issues. By choosing a cause that you can honestly commit to, you will gain loyal customers and inspire others to try and make this world a better place. If you want to order “Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World” and dig deeper into the magnificent world of experiential marketing, please contact us.