Technology reveals cause marketing truths

CauseWorld is a new iphone app that combines the cutting edge of location-based marketing with the power of cause marketing. Its newest initiative reveals the degree to which consumers want to be engaged and the importance that smart companies are placing on brand reputation.

Using GPS technology, CauseWorld provides you with a list of nearby participating retailers. By visiting the retailer and “checking-in,” users earn “karmas” that they can eventually direct to one of 15 causes. Companies like Citi, Kraft and Proctor & Gamble provide the funds that turn karmas into dollars for the causes. In exchange for their support, the companies are provided with opportunities for advertising and branded statements.

CauseWorld’s newest initiative allows users to earn karmas by scanning the bar code on consumer products like detergent, deodorant and mayonnaise. And that’s the part that is so incredibly revealing.

First, it demonstrates the degree to which consumers want to be engaged. The app requires the user to go out of their way to check in to a retailer or to scan the bar code on a product that they may or may not be buying. And to date over 300,000 people have downloaded the app and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been directed to the charities involved. The fact that users can direct their support to the cause of their choice obviously heightens the appeal but its still fascinating that so many people are prepared to go out of their way to do good.

Secondly, the companies involved clearly see the tremendous brand enhancement that is derived from participating in the program. Think about it. Kraft will donate money because someone picked up a jar of Miracle Whip and scanned its bar code whether or not it results in a purchase. But don’t for a moment underestimate the importance of the advertising and branded message opportunities that are part of the program.

While it would be easy to dismiss this as a world in which only hip iphone users and huge consumer goods companies get to play, any business would be smart to carefully consider what this means to the importance of CSR initiatives.

So, what can you be doing? Here are some Passion Points:

  • Develop ways in which customers or prospective customers can be engaged in CSR efforts. Allow them to choose causes to be supported. Provide opportunities for customers to have specially guided visits of participating organizations. Provide customers with login access to special sections of the causes’ websites.
  • Recognize how vital the brand enhancement derived from cause marketing can be to the competitive position of any business. More and more studies indicate that consumers make buying decisions based on their perception of a brand’s CSR efforts. At the same, ensure that your involvement in any cause marketing initiatives provide abundant opportunities for advertising, pr and media exposure. CSR efforts can be a key driver to improved business results but only if consumers know about them.
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