Companies Acting Charitably with Cause Marketing
Huge companies like Target are often criticized for having poor business ethics. They don’t pay their workers very much, they give them tasks which are impossible to complete, and they often sell goods that were extremely cheap to buy from foreign countries. These things are ironically the reasons companies like Target and Wal-Mart have succeeded. In order to erase the bad things associated with these monster companies, they are trying to boost their image by contributing to charities. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to purchase from a retailer that does good for the community. So what is the smart way to give to charity? Target figured it out. Sometime last year in a Target store in Times Square, the entire store was nothing but pink and white. Everything that could be purchased had to be either (or both) of those colors. Every sale made in those 30 days went towards breast cancer research. Target now looks like a hero because of their great donation. But how much did they really give? The people who bought those goods were actually the ones giving the majority of the donation. All Target gave in essence was the cost of the goods, paying the employees, the property rent, etc. A relatively inexpensive marketing technique worked perfectly.
Target is certainly not the only company giving to charity. I think everyone is familiar with extremely popular Livestrong bracelet. This campaign set out to gain 5 million dollars for cancer research, and to date they have gained much more than that. What started as a cheap way to support a good cause became a complete fashion trend. Everyone wears these bracelets from kids to adults. You can bet some people don’t even know what that yellow band means or what the dollar contributed to. Nike is actually behind the Livestrong campaign. This was a brilliant marketing idea for them. By getting people to visit their website to buy the bracelet, you can be sure they bought other things as well. Nike isn’t interested in curing cancer, they’re interested in maximizing profit and they hit it right on the head with Livestrong.
There’s definitely an ethical question with cause marketing. The companies obviously are out to make money, yet they portray themselves as these charitable funds. Who could forget the situation Nike was in years ago with the sweatshop allegations? These companies aren’t as giving as they want us to believe they are. There’s a fine line between being charitable and advertising and I believe cause marketing falls under both. Yes, they are giving money to a presumably good cause, but they are also advertising themselves as a company that you should buy from because they’re so friendly to the world. These companies don’t care which charity they give to, all they care about is that it will be noticed by possible customers and that fact of charity will give them the bit of encouragement they need to buy those 200 dollar Nike basketball shoes. It’s not about the cause or the people. In our world it’ll always be about one thing: the money.