Causes are critical to loyalty - if they fit right
Whether the cause is green, pink or of some other variety, a panel of loyalty marketing experts at the recent US Direct Marketing Association (DMA) annual conference concluded that the trend toward cause marketing is 'the next step' in engaging customers and increasing loyalty.
Authenticity was the key word that kept coming up during the panel discussion, and the overall consensus was that, if the cause is not authentic and fitting with the brand, integrating it into the brand's marketing mix will usually fail.
The panel discussion highlighted the potential future development of cause-related marketing, with expert advice contributions from Morley Ivers (RecycleBank), Erin DeRuggiero (Social Reality), Asha Patel (US Airways Dividend Miles), and Candice Troupe (Air Miles Canada), and chairperson Kelly Hlavinka (Colloquy).
The panel agreed that any loyalty programme that doesn't have some aspect of cause-related marketing is "behind the times", but that any cause associated with the loyalty scheme must align with the sponsoring brand and also be useful to customers.
The panelists shared the belief that cause marketing must be at the core of what brands are doing, and that it must also recognise that customers want brands to do more than just sell products.
Among the highlights revealed during the discussion:
- RecycleBank, a green rewards programme that motivates people to take environmental actions, now serves more than 100 communities in the US and five boroughs in the UK;
- My Planet, the cause marketing initiative of Air Miles in Canada, recently analysed its data to identify millions of members with strong devotion to green causes, then used that analysis to tailor educational and redemption options for those members;
- Through the 'Miles of Hope' programme, US Airways' frequent flyers have already donated more than 700,000,000 miles to worthy causes (such as the American Red Cross and Make-A-Wish Foundation), equalling more than 15,000 flights;
- Some 25,000 influential Seventh Generation Nation members have signed on to create "virtual crawlers" through the company's Million Baby Crawl programme to help raise awareness for tougher legislation on toxicity in household products;
- DailyFeats suggests more than 150 daily tasks that encourage people to take positive actions and to learn about different ways to better themselves, their world, and the lives of other people in their social networks.
"We're at a point where it's more important than ever to have some element of cause marketing invested with our very best customers," concluded Hlavinka. "The importance of local communities and personal relationships are ever-increasing and cause marketing is a great way to align a brand with the values of its customers."
A white paper detailing the findings and conclusions of the DMA panel discussion has been made available for free download - click here (free registration required).