Does ‘Social Purpose’ have a place in shopper marketing promotions?

Posted in ATOM Analysis on 10th August 2018

Does ‘Social Purpose’ have a place in shopper marketing promotions?

Big news in marketing strategy everywhere is ‘Marketing with Social Purpose’. Considered as the next generation CSR, where companies give back to society with a social purpose that is intrinsically linked to the company’s values and long term objectives. It’s about defining what a company does – beyond making money – and how it can make its customers’ lives better.

Tenuous links with charities and initiatives to compensate for a negative effect are being ditched. Instead, companies are aiming to create deeper bonds with consumers by demonstrating specific and genuine links with causes and prevalent social issues they care about to provide a positive effect.

Why should you care?
It’s not a phase, it won’t blow over, Social Purpose is here to stay as it’s shown to increase sales and loyalty:
• 79% of consumers prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose (Economist Insights Team 2018).
• 66% of consumers say they would switch to a product from a purpose-driven company (2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study).

Social Purpose campaigns

Many brands are already embracing it. For example:
• Iceland has pledged to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods with a purpose to end the ongoing destruction of tropical rainforests in south-east Asia.
• McVitie’s latest marketing campaign focuses on the issue of loneliness as the brand looks to “embed itself in modern culture”.
• Heineken launched an #OpenYourWorld campaign in 2017 to bring people together over a bottle of beer.

These early adopters have ensured stand out for a genuinely positive reason, before their competitors join the bandwagon.

Coke recycling

Can these translate into Sales and Shopper Marketing Promotions?
The real crux of social purpose is that it’s not a marketing tactic – it’s something the entire company must live and breathe by, that should run through their commercial veins. As a result it’s no surprise we have already seen purpose marketing executed in sales promotions.

For example: This summer Coca-Cola and Merlin have teamed up to offer 50% off ticket prices to a number of family attractions and theme parks across the UK when a consumer recycles a 500ml bottle via on-site reverse vending machines.

Coca-Cola’s aim was to encourage consumers to recycle – helping them achieve their vision to support sustainable communities. It’s a simple sales promotion technique with a new unique twist that grabs attention and gets headline coverage.

Will we see more and will they be successful?
Essentially, yes… as companies focus increasingly on purpose and creating integrated strategies to demonstrate it, these will undoubtedly filter into shopper promotions.

However… to truly work effectively, they must be part of a bigger strategic picture stemming from the heart of an organisation. Customers will see straight through superficial tactical promotions with negative consequences.

Brands will also need to consider measures of success and the time and money they are willing to invest in establishing Social Purpose – for example, trading quick wins (immediate sales uplift) for a longer term goal (loyalty).

So whether a brand aims to help in the fight against plastic, loneliness or palm oil, the organisation as a whole must be fully committed and any shopper marketing campaign that demonstrates it must be based on a very clear objective and engage and resonate with the customer to achieve results. Need some help? Contact ATOM Marketing.