Thank you. This is a real treat for me. For two reasons. First, I’m a big fan of your industry, and a customer of several of you. Second, I’m a true believer in the subject I’m going to talk with you about tonight. And that’s cause branding.
What do you stand for? It’s a simple question, really.
Everyone knows who this is… What does Superman stand for? Justice, right.
You don’t know the man in the white shirt in this picture. His name is Tyron Flowers. In the first 18 years of his life, he was orphaned, raised in foster homes, sent to jail and shot on a basketball court and paralyzed from the waist down. After his recovery, he turned his life around, got a college degree and then a law degree. He then founded Higher M-Pact – an organization who’s mission is to transform today’s high-risk urban youth into tomorrow’s leaders. Tyron stands for working with the inner-city kids no one else wants to work with, because he was one of them.
This is our son, Joe. He’s 6. And this was on his first camping trip, which we took this year. In fact, we were two of the 29,000 people who participated in the great american backyard campout on June 28. That’s our Mountain Hardware tent in the background. We adopted Joe from Guatemala five years ago, and we’re in the process of adopting two more children from Colombia. More than anything else in our 14 years of marriage, Joe has defined Brand Risley. My wife and I stand for international adoption.
So Superman stands for Justice; Tyrone stands for helping the worst of the worst; My wife and I stand for international adoption. And each of you, on a personal level, can probably answer this question, too. But what about corporations? Or brands? Or industries? It’s harder to imagine, but the answer to this question has as much meaning for an individual as it does for a brand. In fact, what a company stand for says more about the brand than what it sells. Let me say that again –
13 years ago, our client Lee Jeans – the largest maker of jeans for women in the world – didn’t have an answer to the question. We helped them come up with one: curing breast cancer. And the cause branding program we launched that year – Lee National Denim Day – is today the largest single-day fundraiser for breast cancer in the world. And today, the Lee jeans brand is synomomous with this cause. In fact, Lee’s corporate leaders said…
So tonight I want to help you, and your industry, get started on finding your answer to that question. Because if you can, you’ll realize the tangible benefits of cause branding that hundreds of other companies have realized: Increased revenue and deeper customer relationships. But I’ll be honest…it’s not easy, and a lot of brands get it wrong. For example…
Most brands believe “giving to charities” or being involved in the community is cause branding. No. It’s good. We encourage companies to do that. But it’s table stakes in today’s world. And some brands even go so far as cause marketing: one-time promotions that raise money for an issue that may or may not tie in with their corporate values and may or may not make sense to their customers. And that’s where most brands stop. But true cause branding is when the cause becomes a part of your brand identity – when it becomes part of your DNA. And if companies are going to differentiate and compete in the future, they’ll need to practice true cause branding. Because there’s three major trends pushing business in this direction.
The first is the coming of age of Generation Y. Gen Y is the largest living generation -- 77 million strong (born between 1978 and 1993 – 15 to 29) – and bigger than the boomers (74.1 million) Close to 40% of them identify themselves as “non-white.” They’ve never experienced life without computers – the whole world is a click away. They’re Impatient, Comfortable with speed and change, and they expect respect. And they’re the customers you need to attract to replace your aging customer base.
The second trend is what the research firm Iconoculture calls “legacy” Legacy is focusing less on where you are going and more on what you will leave behind. Consumers are shaking off the hangover from the me-me, go-go '90s and coming to the realization that they have a responsibility to give back to the community. They want to leave an imprint, make the world a better place. And they expect the companies they do business with to follow suit.
I want to do a little demonstration to illustrate the third trend. I need a volunteer… Faced with all this choice, and little product differentiation, consumers are basing buying decisions on emotional connections with brands.
Faced with all this choice, and little product differentiation, consumers are basing buying decisions on emotional connections with brands. Along with these broad, macro trends, there’s reams and reams of research to support the adoption of cause branding. Let me share some specific numbers with you:
91% of consumers believe it’s important for companies to support causes and charities. Barkley/PRWeek cause survey, 2007
And the good news is, nearly 75% actually put their money where their mouth is by buying a brand that supports a cause. Barkley/PRWeek cause survey, 2007
We also know consumers will pay more – up to 5% more -- for cause-associated products ( Mintel Cause Marketing Report, 2007)
So business has responded…and today, Cause Branding is a corporate standard. 52% of companies currently engage in cause branding programs (Barkley/PR Week Cause Survey, 2007)
U.S. corporate cause marketing spending is forcasted to be $1.5 billion in 2008 (IEG Sponsorship Report)
Cause branding is good for employee recruitment and retention. 72% of Americans say they would choose to work for a firm that supports charitable causes over one that does not (assuming equal location, pay, benefits and responsibilities) (Deloitte & Touche, 2004)
85% of American business execs said one of the most important effects of cause marketing is to increase employee loyalty (Business for Social Responsibility, 2003) And probably the most important number of all is sales: 80% of business executives said cause helped their bottom lines (Center for Corporate Citizenship, 2004) And let me give you two examples
And probably the most important number of all is sales: 80% of business executives said cause helped their bottom lines (Center for Corporate Citizenship, 2004) And let me give you two examples
Evian Natural Spring Water: Evian supported the organization “Share our Strength” through the “Quench Hunger” program, donating proceeds from sales of cases of 1-liter glass bottles to the non-profit. Sales of this product increased 20 percent during the promotion. There are dozens of these types of stories out there. But rather than rattling off more of them, let’s turn our attention to your industry, and the question that’s probably on your mind.
I believe the answer to the second part of the question is a definative “yes,” or else I wouldn’t be here. As for the first part…based on the research I’ve seen, I think there are three big challenges:
The first: Today more people live away from the outdoors than ever before. In 1900, 60 percent of the US population lived in rural areas – 40 percent in cities. Today, it’s 75 percent Urban, 25 percent rural. But you know what -- 71% of the US geography is rural land! So in other words, there’s still plenty of outdoors out there.
Second, you’re losing people to television and multimedia – especially Gen Y. In the US, kids spend about 30 hours a week looking at a TV or computer monitor (CDC) Although their minds may be active, their bodies aren’t, which contributes to the third challenge:
Obesity. During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. 20 years ago, obesity rates in the majority of states was less 15 percent of the population. And that percentage has grown, and grown and grown. Today, it’s greater than 30% in some states. So it boils down to this…your customer: Lives in a city Is inside And is overweight Now that might sound grim, but…
There is hope. Change is possible. In fact, you have a huge opportunity in front of you. Your industry has the chance to stand for something very meaningful. Let me give you some more examples to give you hope:
Who here has heard of the truth campaign? It was Launched in February 2000 by The American Legacy Foundation, and has become an extraordinary public health success story. Thanks in large part to the campaign, teen smoking rates have decreased every year since the campaign started, and the rates of decline are more than 2 times what they were before the campaign existed (3% to 7%). (According to a study in the March issue of APHA’s American Journal of Public Health) There’s hope.
I mentioned Lee National Denim Day earlier… What I didn’t tell you before is that In addition to “standing for something,” Lee also challenged us to find a way to help turn around Declining sales and a brand perception issues among core audience: women did not perceive Lee as stylish. The brand had become synonymous with “the mom jean.” So here’s the rest of the story…
And the results have been stunning…$70 million raised for breast cancer in 12 years On the business side as well: A majority (60 percent) of women see Lee as more fashionable because of Lee National Denim Day One-third (37 percent) of women are more likely to purchase Lee Jeans or apparel because of Lee National Denim Day Lee retailers report a spike in sales every year when the campaign is promoted
The final case – Dove. Dove faced an interesting dilemma a few years ago. Their core product was their soap, but Dove had been adding more products to its line to point they had grown into a true “beauty brand.” When they talked with their consumers, they found two things: First, consumers still perceived Dove as a bar of soap. And second, consumers weren’t at all happy with the beauty industry because it was distorting what beauty was. The industry made women feel ugly instead of beautiful! So what did Dove do? They went bold. They sided with their customers and took on their own industry.
In 2004, Dove launched The Campaign for Real Beauty. Dove focused not on a product but on a cause: making women feel beautiful regardless of size and age. They later created the Dove Self Esteem Fund, and the results of their efforts have been remarkable.
First, Dove changed the conversation – with hard core awareness. During the summer of 2005, Dove generated 650 million media impressions from the campaign and drove more than a million visitors to their web site. And on the business side, Sales of products featured in ads increased 600 percent in first two months of campaign And they had a 20 percent sales increase in 2005 across entire Dove brand
Three powerful, successful cases. What did they all have in common.
To be successful in cause branding, each brand has to find the intersection of three key things: First, the true brand identity – what are your brand values? Second, your consumers passions. What do your consumers care most about? Finally, the right cause opportunity – we call it the “cause white space.” What can you truly own? Find the intersection of these three things, and you’ve identified your cause platform. For the American Legacy Foundation, it is preventing kids from smoking by telling them the “truth.” For Lee, it’s curing breast cancer five dollars and one pair of jeans at a time. And for Dove, it’s to Make women feel more beautiful by challenging today’s stereotypical view of women Finding your unique cause platform is stop one. Then the real discipline starts. Best in class cause campaigns all have these…
This is more than lip service. It requires Belief in the cause from top management and commitment for the long term. Lee Jean’s leadership has supported Denim Day for 12 years.
The connection between the cause and the company has to make sense to the consumer; in other words, it has to be strategic. Aspirin thins the blood, so it makes sense it would help strokes, like it helps heart attacks.
Don’t assume; ask. Do your homework and find out what your customers care about. Our consumer research for the March of Dimes told us moms think in terms of healthy babies, not sick ones; they think in terms of solutions, not problems. March of Dimes has always stood for a problem – premature birth; now they stand for solutions; healthy babies.
Your employees can big your biggest advocates or your biggest detractors. Engage them in your cause. Lee holds a special employee-only picnic during Lee National Denim Day, and they invite their celebrity spokesperson to the event to interact with employees.
Choose your not-for-profit partners wisely. Be strategic with your choice. Vet them. They bring credibility to the party.
Only 18 percent of Americans express confidence in big business (Gallup Study 2007). Corporate scandals have fueled consumer skepticism. And it’s too bad a few bad apples have soured the barrel. So the bar is high – consumers want to know exactly where their money is going and what it will be used for.
You must market your cause, just like you would a product, so people will know about your commitment. Support your campaign with advertising, PR, online and social media. Integrate it into your operations so it shows up on product. Seek out credible spokespeople. And don’t worry that consumers will think you’re just tooting your own horn. A recent cause study found 86 percent of consumers actually want companies to talk about their good works.
Finally, measure your results and calculate your return – not only the return to your business, but to society. Whirlpool partners with Habitat for Humanity through their Building Blocks Program to support every home built by Habitat in the US. Whirlpool set out specific societal and business objectives early in their program. And it worked. To date they’ve donated more than $34 million and 73,000 appliances to Habitat. And because of their efforts, Whirlpools overall consumer loyalty – a key metric for them -- rose 15 percent.
When you stand for something greater than your bottom line, people will stand with you.