Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Am I the only one suffering from charity burnout?


It seems like every time I turn around these days someone is informing me that part of the money I just paid to buy something is being devoted to some worthwhile cause.

The latest one jumping on the bandwagon is Tide detergent. They have been touting their disaster relief efforts, most notably those for victims of Hurricane Katrina, on television, and are now introducing a new package design featuring their beneficiaries that is scheduled to run through June. (Hopefully this isn’t a Tropicana packaging disaster in the making).

P&G, Tide’s parent company will be donating 10 cents from each sale of the newly packaged detergent to disaster relief. (Wong, 2009)

While a study conducted by Self magazine and consulting firm Latitude in spring 2007 indicated that women will pay an extra 6.1% for products associated with a social cause, I am skeptical. (“Self Study: Women Willing To Pay Premium for a Cause”, 2007)

Frankly, I’d rather decide for myself which charities I want to support rather than having someone else do it for me. What do you think? Is donation to a worthy cause a motivator for you when you make your purchase decisions? Would you pay +6% more?

Wong, E. (2009, April 10). Tide’s Charitable Makeover. Retrived April 12, 2009 from:

(2007, October 15). Self Study: Women Willing To Pay Premium for a Cause. AdWeek, p38.

1 comment:

  1. COMMENTS (6)
    Meredith Darts:
    In general, I am actually a big supporter in charity donations. However, I do not think when companies charge extra to make a donation is appropriate. I almost feel like its fake positive public relations: "Our company truly cares about society." Yet, I feel that as a company they are doing very little. If Tide is not actually donating any of its own money to the Hurricane Relief funds, then they act like as a middle man, yet trying to reap all the benefits.
    That being said, I feel comfortable with companies such as Paul Newman's dressing that are built upon non-profit ideals where there are no fiscal benefits for the company. It's not a one-time gimmick or a chance to improve sales. On some level, every time I go shopping it's an involved process if I pick it up and it is a conscience decision on my part if I do or do not buy it.
    My most recent burnout just occurred with my federal taxes. After figuring out that the government owed me money, I was faced with the decision to donate to almost a dozen of choices. While I do have to some extent the decision which charity to donate to, I don't know how many people are in donating mindsets after they have completed their yearly taxes.
    Posted by Meredith Darts | April 14, 2009 12:40 PM

    Posted on April 14, 2009 12:40
    Gail Brennan:
    Agree with Meredith's comments. When some companies tie in charity donations with their sales and marketing campaigns, it doesn't rankle me - probably it's a charity I want to support. However, in the case of Tide, being that P&G is such a corporate giant, it just doesn't ring true for me.
    The charity campaigns that did resonate with me were MAC makeup and GAP. GAP creates products for the "RED" campaign, which supports aids victims. I believe Mac does the same. I felt that the way those campaigns were presented were more authentic. Also, they didn't broadcast that message in all of their brand ads so it didn't feel like they were milking it for their own gain and profit.
    Posted by Gail Brennan | April 14, 2009 7:02 PM

    Posted on April 14, 2009 19:02
    Bradley A Giddens:
    Wait a minute, how long ago was Hurricane Katrina? And only now P&G is getting on that bandwagon? I have to think there's no real concern on their part because of that. Add to that the very short campaign time line and this smells fake to me. Now had Tide been the first to react, that would be a different story. There's something to be said for being first to market.
    Posted by Bradley A Giddens | April 15, 2009 2:41 PM

    Posted on April 15, 2009 14:41
    Susie Cornicello:
    To answer specifically with regard to the article and your question, it’s important that I say I typically buy a product like laundry detergent based on price, but I always stick with brands like Tide, Gain, or All. Yes, I am a brand junkie when it comes to detergent! In this instance, if prices were similar, I would likely buy Tide if some of the proceeds were to go to a charity. But, it would definitely depend on price differentials. 6% of $12.00 is $.72. If brand x was $12.10, and Tide was $12.83, I would by Tide for the good cause associated with it. But, if Tide was $2.00 more than brand x, I would buy x over Tide.
    A short time ago I was shopping online for a gift to send to my mother, and unfortunately I can’t remember the particular item I was shopping for. For the sake of ease let’s just say it was cookies. My decision was going to be based on price and packaging. I remember four options that I liked. All four had pictures and their corresponding price listed below. One of the selections displayed the ‘pink ribbon’ and elicited that if purchased, a percentage of the proceeds would go to breast cancer research. I was almost immediately sold, because not only did I love the packaging, but breast cancer runs in my family. Looking at the prices of my four options I was choosing from, I noticed the product with the charity proceeds was noticeably more expensive than the others. It greatly disturbed me and I remember wondering if companies often increase prices of specific products in order to contribute to charities. I'm not sure why the price was so different; maybe the packaging was more expensive to design, or smaller quantities were purchased since the promotion was lasting for a limited time. Needless to say, I did not purchase the product even though it was the most aesthetically appealing to me. I found it disturbing to think that a company donated in their name, when the hike in price to the consumer was what allowed them to do so.
    There are other more meaningful options for brands that can help them create longer lasting notoriety, such as the idea of a “spokesperson”. Wally Amos (Famous Amos Cookies) is a perfect example. He became the spokesperson for the Literacy Volunteers of America. In comparing the two as a consumer, I regard Famous Amos more highly than Tide in supporting a cause. It seems Tide is using this as an opportunity to bank on a simple cause-related marketing scheme, whereas Famous Amos has a legitimate, authentic interest in their cause.
    All in all, as a consumer I am a fan of brands partnering with charities, as long as buyers aren’t being fooled by paying a premium for the product. My business mind wonders how well cause-related marketing actually does work, but that is likely to be answered on more of a case-by-case basis.
    Posted by Susie Cornicello | April 15, 2009 5:12 PM

    Posted on April 15, 2009 17:12
    Michael Udell:
    I don't think that the good things a company does effects sales that much. However, there are some corporations that need to pump up their good deeds just to present a different perspective.
    I haven't seen these ads in a while, but I remember when British Petroleum would run commercials about how involved they are in the development of alternative fuels. Most people associate oil companies with pure evil, so to be involved in solar and wind power and come off as less creepy than ExxonMobil is pretty good for BP Amoco.
    Also, while I was watching the Mets game on Wednesday, the sideline reporter was in the stands speaking with a Citi executive. Apparently, Citi set up a program to take 50 or so underprivileged children to see the Mets at CitiField. Right now we associate CitiField with TARP money, the bailout, bonuses and populist rage. Citi and some of those banks need as much good press as they can get.
    Posted by Michael Udell | April 17, 2009 11:39 AM

    Posted on April 17, 2009 11:39
    Danielle Dorsainvil:
    Personally, I don't usually choose one product or another based on their charity affiliations. I feel that if I decide to give money to charity, it will be to the one of my choosing. Proceeds going to a particular charity doesn't matter to me as much as whether or not I like that particular product or simply if I think it's worth the money.
    I feel that on an individual level, donating to charity is likely an act done in support of a cause that speaks to you rather than a reason for you to walk around with an "S" on your chest.
    However, I feel that Tide donating to charity is most likely more about public perception than it is an act of altruism. I can appreciate that. Business is business...
    That said, if the means justifies the end: Hurricane Katrina victims get more assistance, then I'm all for it. I pay little attention to that type of motivation/marketing when choosing a laundry detergent but if I happen to like the product, and I'm willing to pay for it, and as a result, part of my money goes to a charity...any charity then Great! More power to them.
    Posted by Danielle Dorsainvil | April 21, 2009 9:29 AM