Social generosity is a win/win situation for brands and customers alike
Posted by: Anthem
Date added: Tue 08 Jun 2010
After a recent history of conspicuous consumption, banking greed and financial collapse it seems that an altogether more altruistic era may be upon us. As a reaction to the past, and the continuing economic woes and instability that dominate the headlines, consumers are responding to organisations that are putting something back into society.
Brands are of course savvy to this trend, and have been looking beyond ‘greenwash’ style tactical promotions at how they can incorporate true social generosity into their DNA. It’s no longer just about being seen to make a difference, but about genuinely ‘leaving something behind’. As well as being a sales driver, a truly socially generous brand approach makes consumers appreciative and more likely to evangelise about what you’re doing. By demonstrating brands are more than a faceless corporation it can also be a great way of reflecting core brand values and building trust; plus, internally staff like to work for a company that is actively seeking to make a difference.
If that’s not enough, when done well and authentically, social generosity can provide real point of brand differentiation. It inspires loyalty and creates a much deeper brand/customer relationship that goes beyond the simple purchase of a product. Umair Haque, director of Havas Media Lab comments, “Doing good is fast becoming a strategic – not just a moral – imperative,” adding, “We have to put the meaning back into business.”
Orange RockCorps is a powerful example of social generosity in action. Orange offers its customers ‘free’ tickets to exclusive big-name gigs. However, it’s not money they’re after, but their time to help local community projects in their area. In doing this Orange has created a highly relevant and positive link between their consumer and brand, although it has no direct link through to what Orange are selling.
However, social generosity isn’t just about special events. Brands are also offering consumers the chance to make a difference just by doing their grocery shopping. In the States, Anthem Worldwide helped Campbell’s with its ‘Help Grow Your Soup’ initiative around its tomato soup. This supported the National FFA Organisation, a charity which plants gardens in urban communities and schools nationwide and also helps young people interested in a career in agriculture.
To create real noise around this act of social generosity we temporarily changed the iconic Campbell’s Tomato Soup red colour band on the label with a plump tomato – a massive thing for the brand to do, but it got the campaign noticed. In the end, Campbell’s donated 22.5 million seeds to charity and also rewarded customers with free tomato seeds
This was a classic win/win situation with consumers and charity both benefiting, plus Campbell’s was able to highlight its mission to ‘nourish people’s lives everywhere, every day’, bringing to customers attention the natural, farm-grown ingredients it uses in its products. Who would think that buying/selling soup could do so much good?!
On a similar tack, at lunchtime today I picked up one of Innocent’s ‘Buy one get one bee’ bottles which donates money to help install beehives across the UK to help against bees’ declining numbers. Plus, attached to the bottle was a pack of free bee friendly seeds to help me create a bee-friendly garden. Lovely.
Waitrose also has an initiative to give back, running its Community Matters programme. Each of its stores is given £1,000 per month to donate to one of three local organisations or charities. Every time you shop you’re offered a token and you can drop into the box to vote for who should get the money. So each time you visit you’re reminded that Waitrose is making a difference locally, and so are you in a cost free way just by picking up your groceries.
Brands such as Coca-Cola can often be targets for consumers who are worried about globalisation and for them social generosity can be a great way to show that they do care and that they can actually use their size for the benefit of others. ColaLife is a project which uses Coca-Cola’s extensive distribution capabilities to make lifesaving basic medicines and educational material available to children in developing countries who need them.
So why are so many of us starting to ‘feel the love’. Social media has clearly played a role in boosting brands generosity. The feeling of collaboration and sharing that is engendered through online communities is a perfect way to help individuals feel part of the greater good, giving them easy opportunities to take part. ColaLife has a Facebook page with several thousand fans that has enabled it to also get the project noticed by the media.
It seems that no longer is it enough to be the biggest and the best. It’s also about demonstrating the biggest social conscience. Not only will your customers appreciate this, they will remember you more and the chances of them collaborating with you are significantly higher. For companies with brand portfolios, social generosity also can create a halo effect which makes consumers better disposed to buy across a whole range. So if social generosity makes us all feel good, what’s stopping you? Get generous!
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