Friday, July 24, 2015

Will you buy more from Kohl's because they are participating in bike-helmet fittings?

Retailers are gearing up for the fall rush by embracing cause-related efforts. 

For its eighth annual National Suit Drive, Men's Warehouse is adding social media and support from NBA coaches as they hope to pass the one million mark.  (Current total: 850,000+)  Donators get 50% off their next purchase.

Buy a $5 fashion pass at Macy's and get 15% - 20% savings storewide.  Proceeds will go to one of four charities.  

And Kohl's has chosen to support children's health and will offer car-safety inspections and dental health giveaways in addition to the bike-helmet fittings. (Mahoney, 2015)

Given that a 2014 study from AOL indicated that 54% of Millennial women switched brands because it supported a cause they care about, this idea seems to make sense. (Coffee, 2015)

But is it true?  Have you made any purchases or switched brands due to cause marketing?  Do you know anyone else who has?  Or is the more motivating factor the discounts being offered as part of the programs?

Mahoney, S. (2015, July 21)  Retailers Embrace Cause-Related Efforts.  Retrieved July 24, 2015, from

Coffee, P. (2014, April 16)  STUDY: Cause Marketing Creates Brand Loyalty Among Millennial Women.  Retrieved July 24, 2015, from


  1. Yes it’s true. It happened to me just a few months ago when I was in Ritz-Carlton Hotel of Hong Kong. After checking in, the receptionist handed me a booklet with a picture of a big chocolate cake. She told me they were raising fund for children with cleft palate, the money I paid for the cake would completely go to the fund. Without hesitation, I bought the whole cake even though the price was as twice as a normal cake. And after they sent the cake to my room, I ate it all! I felt that’s the best chocolate cake I’d ever had in my life. Then I realised, it’s not the cake itself was good, it’s me doing something good made the cake taste better.

  2. I think the effectiveness of cause-related marketing can basically be analyzed at two levels.

    1. How clearly the cause resonates with the brand ethos or alternately the brand’s core business
    2. How easy it is for the consumer to engage with the cause

    As far as my first point goes, Patrick Coffee sums it up quite nicely in his report – since the value of tying a brand to a social issue can’t be overstated, the connection needs to be made as clear and transparent as possible. In light of this fact, of the 3 retailers discussed in the MediaPost article, I feel like Men’s Wearhouse is the only one that really does justice to that “connection”. By urging shoppers to donate gently-used professional attire so that it can be passed on to unemployed job-seekers, they have basically managed to tie in their cause with their core-business, and by extension tapped into their key target market – male professionals. Not only does this facilitate “brand recall” specifically in the product space that Men’s Wearhouse would hope to dominate (men’s professional attire), but it also & most importantly, targets the cause itself, at those who could empathize with it, be in a position to contribute to it AND actually care enough to associate with it – in this case, male professionals who own the sort of attire that’s being asked for as a donation.

    My second point – ease of involvement – pertains to any kind of campaign/promotion really, regardless of whether a cause is built in or not. If someone has to go out of their way to avail of something or engage with something, they’re less likely to do it. Charge me a dollar or two extra for a coffee that I’m buying everyday, so that a poverty-stricken child can be fed or educated? I’ll absolutely go ahead and do it! But make me buy a separate $5 Kohl’s Cares toy at Kohl’s – and I’m already thinking I’d rather contribute a larger sum of money to a cause closer to my heart, instead of purchasing something that I have no use for. Here again, I feel like Men’s Wearhouse leads the way because they’re urging shoppers to donate old attire, that they would have passed along (either to a shelter or to someone known) anyway – and additionally throwing in an additional 50% discount for doing something that they really didn’t have to go out of their way for.

    In conclusion hence, if a brand manages to build these 2 key components into their cause-related campaign, I do see their sales being positively impacted.

    In another vein, largely in a long-term sense though, brands that have causes ingrained into their very framework/infrastructure, create loyalists & staunch patrons regardless of changing trends & competition. The Body Shop for me, will always stand head and shoulders above the rest of the cosmetic companies, because they endorsed “against animal testing” way before people were as vocal about the cause, as they are now. I for one, became aware of this fact when I was only about 5 or 6 years old – definitely before I started using any cosmetics – but it impacted my perception to such an extent over a period of time, that till date, I purchase from The Body Shop (and not from the plethora of “hipper” brands) because the brand’s ideals speak to me.

    - Moumita Virginia

  3. I will admit that I don’t think I have switched brands based on cause marketing, at least not that I can recently recall. I have donated a few bucks to various charities at grocery stores at the time of checkout before, but I never purposefully sought out a particular grocery store because of the cause marketing though. My decision to go to that particular store is typically out of convenience. Maybe it is also because I live a budgeted life right now, and I tend to be more selfish with my money, and I pass on the opportunity to spend money that I did not plan to spend unless it involves something I want. When I do pass on certain cause marketing offers, I think my usual copout is telling myself that If I want to donate to a certain cause, I can go to a specific charity organization and do it directly. So I guess my answer is, I would be more motivated by the discount or thing being offered for the donation!


  4. I think cause related efforts have definitely become a popular trend. The first retailer that comes to mind is Toms. There is nothing extremely unique about the shoes, yet because they market that "with every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need," consumers are more likely to buy the overpriced shoes because it is for a greater purpose.

    I think this strategy is also effective becasue it plays off a shopper's guilt. I know sometimes when I go shopping and buy something that I do not need or that is overpriced, I feel guilty. I think to myself...I am here buying ANOTHER purse, when somebody on in Africa can't even find something to eat. However, whenever my purchase contributes to a cause, the guilt somewhat subsides. I think this strategy wioll help encourage more purchases because it makes shoppers feel better about themselves..

  5. I applaud these three retailers. I think its great that they have a program to give back and helping families and certain charities. Upon some reflection I can honesty say that I have never been swayed by any charitable promotion and I don't know anyone who has. Maybe I am a bit cynical about these promotions. I think in the long run its about jumping on the newest fad to increase sales. I like the Men's Warehouse promotion a lot and I think they will get some traction. And I think what Kohl's and Macy's are offering are cool too. Maybe it will sway some of the women millennial shoppers they are targeting. Although its about increasing sales I like the idea of helping families and the less fortunate. I hope other businesses will follow these retailer's lead. Overall it will help their branding a lot in the long term. Good press and increased sales for all concerned .


  6. I feel like I am echoing the sentiments above as convenience is typically my number 1 priority when donating to cause marketing. St Jude's Hospital does a great job at the grocery store/CVS of $1 donations upon checkout. Those like myself that are on budgets can typically spare a couple dollars as its a cost you don't really see. I typically don't change brands due to cause marketing but I can see that when the discount is large enough toward something that gets lots of use (like suits) it will attract defectors.

    Though this is slightly off topic: I attended a African benefit cause thru AmRefUSA (Clean supplies, Maternity needs, fresh water etc) that had a few sponsored cocktails. "Cocktails for a Cause" makes a lot of sense in cities and for the 21-35 crowd. Because so many people go out for happy hour drinks and spend 50 dollars easily, why not take advantage of an open bar while those in need can benefit from those dollars.
    Honestly it felt like a win-win. I was spending less than I would at a regular bar, trying differently infused cocktails and knowing that 100% of my donation was going to something I happily support.

    I think alcoholic and non alcoholic Beverage companies should consider this more often. However you do have to be careful with cause marketing as some groups, cities, ages may not support certain causes and less eager to donate.

  7. Yes! I am a very sensitive person and so I support and feel very connected to these brands that take their time and money to support other causes. I think cause marketing is a strategic way to get to your audience; probably it won´t apply to everyone, but I believe it is definitely worth it to give it a try and incorporate it in your marketing strategy, especially nowadays that people are becoming more and more conscious about society in general (nature, animals, people, food).

    I was recently looking to buy an apron for cooking. I went on and found this cute, very artisanal apron that I really liked, andI had also two other options on the same website that I liked. I wasn´t so sure of which one to choose from, until I read that the first one, artisanal I saw, was hand made by ladies in Mexico struggling to find ways to feed their families. That really got to me, and so I chose that apron over the others just to become involved with that charity.

  8. Yes, I probably buy more from Kohl's because of their cause-related marketing. And it will effect to me better brand image of Kohl's. In my case, Whenever I feel happy and more enjoyable, I tend to buy more than as usual and also I become a fan of that brand. For instance, before 10 years ago, 'Korean air' was just a transportation company that Korean people use. During 10 years, they had tried to do strategic cause-related marketing for their solid brand image. Before that Korean air had an image for Korean that they sometimes are dangerous. We thought we didn't have good domestic airline and our satisfaction of Korean air was not that high. But Korean air had started to donate and support. First, they sponsored a Korean version of travel brochure in top three museums in the world.Second, the company had started to raising fund for Korean athletes or sports mans. As a result, Kim Yuna who is the 2010 Olympic champion and 2014 silver medalist in ladies' singles. Now, Korean air is one of the best brand in Korea and Korean air has higher brand loyalty for the Korean.

  9. I have bought a product that supports a cause, but that wasn't the main reason why I acquired my Toms shoes, it was a combination of: Reasonable price, good quality product & a fashion trend. For my surprise when I dig a little bit more on the brand, I found a very nice plus* (they support a cause) great! I felt no guilty about my purchase anymore, at the beginning I thought the price was a little high, but when I get notice of what they were doing with kids in Africa I just understand why they were charging me that price and have no problem paying for it.

    As I see it, is not that the cause what forces my decision, but definitely I was willing to pay more for the same product after I realized this fact.

    So for me is not about the special offers around a cause, its about a brand assuming responsibility and demonstrating results, yes of course, they can justify their high prices with this argument, anyway we already know they are doing this with our money, right?

  10. I've definitely made purchases due to cause marketing. For example Tom's Shoes. I purchased a pair knowing that my money would go to supplying a pair for a child in need. Another case of this is Warby Parker - buy a pair of glasses, have a pair donated.

    At retailers such as Duane Reade, you are asked if you want to donate money to a charity before making swiping your card for the final purchase. You will also be told how much money you have saved by making purchases with them, therefore you are incentivized to make a donation due to your savings.

    All in all, I feel it is a good idea because every little bit helps.