Monday, October 26, 2009

Consumer Consciousness: The Third Element Redefining the Value Equation

In our last post, we outlined PERSONAL and PLANET as two recent dimensions of the value equation emerging in light of the new climate of consumer consciousness.

There's a third that most readers will have seen almost at every turn: PEOPLE.

In the era of higher standards, of greater scrutiny about what is being bought and its effects, people also want an opportunity to participate and contribute towards a greater social good. As a result, they are also expecting more of the companies they buy from, for them to do their part to improve the world we live in.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been around for decades, but it's typically been more of a PR driven initiative to generate goodwill in order to shape perceptions than a deep-rooted embrace. Tom's Shoes is a great example of a commitment on a different scale. It donates a pair of new shoes to a needy child for every pair sold. The social good is inextricably part of its business model.

An example of a more traditional approach is Tide Detergent. The "Loads of Hope" campaign is P&G's latest CSR attempt to link 'doing laundry' with 'doing good'. (Don't get us wrong, something is better than nothing: but not only is the link conceptually a weak one - in our culture 'hope' is not something we think of in terms of 'loads' - but the scale and sustainability of the impact is modest).

Overall, this strategy is an ever popular one with marketers. The basic approach is to link consumption directly with a virtuous outcome.

Starbucks says that by buying its coffee YOU are the force behind change on a massive scale...

Volvic touts its 'Drink 1 Give 10' benefit if you buy its water (click on this recent airport commercial).

The intent of course: shape brand choice in a way that requires no additional effort by the consumer. "Keep doing what you're already doing". The act of buying is an act of giving.

Not a bad strategy (few things are inherently flawed except teapots made of chocolate). Though as Brandchannel points out: Cause Marketing Grows: but is the backlash ahead?

No comments: