Setting up a campaign to support a charitable cause
|In domains||Food and Beverage Industry, Giving Back to the Community|
Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) is a type of marketing effort in which a company supports a given charitable cause: the company agrees to pay a portion of the proceeds it receives from the sale of “shared products” to the cause it has chosen to support. Conducting a CRM activity should incorporate three elements: an area of common interest to the company and the cause or association, a period of time sufficiently long to carry out the program, and effective communication for the event. CRM allows a business to reach other segments of the market, improve its image, differentiate its product from that of others and motivate its employees.
For nine years, Belgian coffee retailer Douwe Egberts has worked with food banks in the country as part of its “Café pour tous” (“Coffee for Everyone”) program.
The “Café pour tous” program involves donating two cups of coffee to a food bank with each purchase of a 250g package of coffee during the month of December. Douwe Egberts wishes to support Belgian food banks in their mission to provide free food aid to society’s neediest.
There are several aspects to consider when developing a CRM campaign:
- choice of partner: The choice of partner should preferably be based on geographical proximity. The strength of the partnership may be based on the profile of the consumers and segments of the population affected by the cause, or on the brand image and the product’s characteristics and market positioning. For example, Douwe Egberts, a company in the agri-food industry, has chosen to associate itself with a group of organizations working to end hunger (Belgian food banks).
- scope of the program: the extent of the program will vary according to the size of the company and its chosen partner (in the case of Douwe Egberts, the program is run nationwide).
- length of the campaign: in general, it seems that a longer-term partnership will boost consumer confidence and heighten the program’s visibility (media coverage, official ceremonies to present “donations”, publicizing the results of the campaign, etc.). In the case of Douwe Egberts, the program has been held during one month (December) on an annual basis for the last nine years.
- budget: this involves the shared products upon which the program is based. With regard to the Douwe Egberts program, the company donates the equivalent of about sixty metric tons of coffee each year. Marketing costs must also be considered, since the program is above all a commercial operation that requires publicity. Lastly, it is also necessary to cover expenses related to human resources mobilized during the campaign.
- negotiating the partnership: this stage precedes that of the contract, goes into detail concerning the campaign’s objectives and the means by which it will be carried out, and evaluates the risks involved in the partnership. The partners’ objectives should ideally overlap but must also be clear, straightforward and measurable, thus enabling continuous assessment of the CRM campaign. In the case of Douwe Egberts, the goal is to donate 10 million cups of coffee each year and promote the concept of providing food assistance to the needy during the wintertime.
-contract: in addition to the usual clauses addressing the rights and duties of the parties involved, the contract may include the amount to be paid to the participating organization(s), the way in which the sum is to be calculated, minimum and maximum limits (if any) for donations, usage of logos, publicity for participating organizations, and possible exclusivity clauses.
- program management and publicity: publicity must be taken into account before and after the program, since only consumers who have been made aware of it can take part. Post-campaign publicity regarding the results of the program is also very important, as this helps show the public how their donations have been put to use.
- measurement and evaluation: this stage is difficult insofar as it cannot be done strictly in financial or marketing terms, such as volume of sales. Gains made in terms of image, perception or the creation of positive consumer attitudes cannot be easily measured, yet must be taken into account.
• The partnership must not appear opportunistic, as this will arouse consumer suspicion. It is therefore necessary to adopt a clear message, exercise care in choosing a partner and set a reasonable amount for the donation;
• A large number of partners can be difficult to manage; in the case of Douwe Egberts, the company’s distribution of coffee is done via more than 600 charitable associations. It is therefore necessary to work through an intermediary in order to facilitate communication; Douwe Egberts has chosen the Belgian Fédération des banques alimentaires to distribute the donated coffee as it sees fit.
The objective is to donate more than 10 million cups of coffee to Belgian food banks each winter; since the initiative was first launched, this goal has largely been met.
According to a Douwe Egberts spokesperson, the return on the company’s investment in the program has been two-fold:
• the amount of publicity the program receives is important, as this allows the company to identify itself as a good “corporate citizen”;
• for several years, 30 to 40% of the company’s staff have been personally involved in the program, volunteering their time to distribute coffee to those in need.
Although companies often associate themselves with a particular cause by teaming up with an NGO, some decide to go it alone and carry out programs by themselves. This is the case with British retailer Tesco and its “Computers for School” campaign, which has been in existence now for over 10 years. Even though the company runs the program on its own, the concept is the same. In return for either a minimum purchase at a Tesco location (£5 or £10, depending on the store) or a donation of used electrical equipment, customers receive vouchers of a certain value that they can donate to the school of their choice. The school can then exchange the vouchers for computer equipment (such as monitors, hard drives, printers, etc…)
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