Does India Inc really market its cause?


Priyanka Saha and Give India


Priyanka Saha

In today’s world of ‘global-philanthropy-meets-consumerism’, purchase sees an attached taste of feelgood. As more and more consumers flock towards ‘responsible’ product buys and as a large number of brands seek non-traditional perspectives as ways to differentiate themselves, cause marketing associations seem to be the pick of the bunch for marketing gurus across the globe.

Originated in 1976, cause-related marketing has long since been implemented in the west and continues to derive value even today. As brands and retail chains leverage tie ups with non-profits to market their products better, they charter bilateral benefits not just to themselves but to the non-profits as well. According to the Cause Marketing Forum, when quality and price of a product are deemed equal, social purpose has consistently been the leading purchase trigger for global consumers since 2008. In 2012, 47% of consumers have bought a brand at least monthly that supports a cause, representing a 47% increase from 2010. Over the years, consumers have taken increased action on behalf of brands with a purpose. All in all, consumers have been choosing to give back in the most regular and coherent manner by means of supporting cause marketed products: in 2012, 39% more consumers have said that they ‘would recommend’ cause-related brands, while 9% more consumers have said that they ‘would switch’ brands if a similar brand supported a good cause.

In India, however, the scenario is different, partly because enterprises are only just waking up to the idea, but more importantly because very few corporations and non-profits have been able to successfully explore cause marketing to the fullest. Nonetheless, a few cause marketing campaigns have worked reasonably well in India. P&G India’s project Shiksha (a subset of the larger global initiative Live Learn and Thrive) aims to channel a fraction of every purchase of a selected group of products towards building more schools for the underprivileged. In 2011-12, the project reached 385,000 children through 200 schools across India. Through a campaign titled ‘Jaago Re’ (meaning Wake Up), the Indian tea brand Tata Tea generated massive youth appeal and movement by provoking young people to become responsible and vote. The campaign gained viral momentum online and the platform is now integrated with differentiated options to further social engagement through opinion-oriented events and volunteering opportunities with NGOs.

GiveIndia tied up with Make My Trip, India’s premier travel search website, to offer every customer who buys a flight ticket the option of offsetting their carbon footprint by planting a tree with the NGO Seva Mandir. Over 60,000 users opted for planting a tree to offset their carbon footprint, resulting in donations averaging $2,700 per month. Furthermore, 46% of customers who responded chose this site over other travel search websites because of its unique carbon reduction program. A similar tie up with Payback that allows customers to redeem their acquired points to a GiveIndia-certified NGO sees an average in flow of donations worth $3,000 per month.

While the above examples demonstrate the extent of benefits that cause marketing alliances potentially offer, it certainly looks as though cause marketing will be viewed as one of the most adoptable top-line strategies for non-profits to acquire retail donor bases and achieve large-scale impact. It is surprising is that the trend has not caught on more in on the Indian circuit yet. However, with the advent of new-found social awakening and increasingly rising ‘brand’ culture in India, one can only hope that it will just be a matter of time before cause marketing takes on the Indian marketing stereotypes. It should become one of the major pillars in not only inculcating a philanthropic mindset within the common man but also bridging a substantial gap that currently exists between the potential and actual impact groups. There could be some really exciting days ahead for Indian non-profits if philanthropy will becomes second nature for Indian households just as shopping is at present.

Priyanka Saha is the Manager, PR & Brand at GiveIndia.

Tagged in: Cause marketing Corporate social responsibility India Individual donors

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