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By Chase Cornett, chase@MyPlanG.com
The holiday shopping season is just around the corner and soon consumers will be bombarded with buying guides, floods of emails, deep discounts and, of course, that Black Friday competitive spirit. With all the chaos brought on by the holidays, retailers are finding it harder and harder to stand out. The result — strategies that focus on discounts, deliver low profit margins and drive transactions instead of engaged brand experiences.
Now, retailers have an opportunity to stand out this holiday season by joining the movement of businesses embedding social impact into their holiday marketing strategy. Studies continue to show an increase in a consumer’s brand preference for businesses that support causes they care about. Research like Edelman’s 2012 goodpurpose® study show 72% of consumers are willing to recommend a brand if it supports a good cause. This represents a 39% growth since 2008. That’s where movements like #GivingTuesday represent a perfect opportunity for retailers to join in.
#GivingTuesday is the day after Cyber Monday. In its second year, this movement creates a real opportunity for retailers to differentiate, make a positive impact in the world and grow their bottom line by extending holiday sales opportunities.
Here are three strategies to consider as you look for ways to participate:
1. Use cause marketing as marketing
Brands make major investments to tag and track consumer data, better understand consumer needs, provide relevant and timely offers and deliver brand experiences in an omni-channel ecosystem. However, for a variety of reasons, these core engagement strategies are not carried through in traditional cause marketing efforts.
As businesses plan their giving strategy it’s important to remember it’s still about the consumer, not just the cause. Delivering choice among nonprofits allows consumers to give to the cause they care about, creates strong emotional connections, and sets a foundation of shared values with the brand.
2. Holidays are a season, giving can be too
It’s easy and impactful for retailers to incorporate giving in a variety of ways across their marketing efforts. Instead of focusing on a one-time promotion, there’s an opportunity for brands to partner with philanthropy for the entire holiday season and utilize the #GivingTuesday movement as a kick-off to highlight efforts to gain social buzz and PR.
Retailers can take a look at their business priorities for the holiday season and find creative ways to add philanthropic incentives as a part of their marketing mix. Whether aiming to increase gift card sales, acquire loyalty program members, influence category purchases or drive holiday frequency — rewarding consumers with dollars to donate to their favorite nonprofit can extend the brand relationship beyond the transaction through the entire giving season.
By creating multiple ways to celebrate giving, retailers can create a philanthropic campaign that extends the giving season into long-lasting impressions with their brand’s authentic values.
3. Innovate to differentiate
It’s no secret that innovation is a major driver of brand differentiation. Creating a giving campaign this holiday season can set a retailer apart from the status quo. Cause marketing is a business strategy that’s overdue for innovation. Advancements in technology amongst cause marketing and other giving platforms provide an opportunity for brands to innovate without heavy technology investment.
Engagement is a leading indicator of long-term brand loyalty. Relevant and creative cause marketing strategies can provide the emotional fuel to translate engagement into brand loyalty. Leading brands will seize this opportunity to reach and create emotional connections with their customers, emphasize the importance of making a social impact and drive ROI.
As the holiday season quickly approaches, the No. 1 gift for retailers is the opportunity to give back. Join the #GivingTuesday movement and do something different that makes a positive financial and social impact.
Chase Cornett is director of marketing and brand at PlanG, a company pioneering a new way to create brand loyalty through philanthropy. The company helps businesses build meaningful relationships with consumers by incentivizing them with dollars to give to the charities of their choice. Chase can be reached at chase@MyPlanG.com.