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WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER – Involving consumers in your cause

According to a recent report by The Intelligence Group, in the past five years, ethical practices and alignment with social causes have become increasingly valued. Consumers, particularly the Millenials, are socially conscious and believe in the potential for brands to make a difference in the world.

As consumers become more demanding and expect brands to have CSR programmes in place, so too are brands asking more of their consumers – inviting them to step in and actively help them to reach their goals.

Paradoxically, the more demanding brands become, the more respect they earn from consumers, providing their demands are meaningful and their practices are 100% transparent. By personally involving consumers in their cause, these brands are creating longer lasting emotional connections (as consumers see the results of their mutual efforts first hand, as opposed to hearing about them in an ad).

Here are a few examples of how brands are doing this successfully.

WEIGHT WATCHERS – LOSE FOR GOOD

Whilst being socially responsible is always a good thing, being so in a way that is relevant to your brand can be extremely powerful.

Looking for ways to inspire people to lose weight and do some good in the process, Weight Watchers came up with their successful Lose for Good campaign. Members are asked to stack up piles of food equivalent to the weight they lose and then bring the food they don’t eat to local Weight Watchers meetings. Seeing what a difference that can make to someone else’s life is illuminating for members and creates a strong bond with the brand.

In addition to what members choose to donate, Weight Watchers donates up to $1 million worth of food a year. In the last year, Weight Watchers members lost an estimated four million pounds during the campaign, resulting in the donation of nearly 200,000 pounds of food to local food banks.

INTIMISSIMI & H&M – RECYCLING CLOTHES

It is one thing to say that you are a sustainable brand and a completely different thing to actually ask your consumers to help you be more sustainable.

With the continued growth of fast fashion –where clothes last no more than two years, big multinationals are faced with the fact that more and more clothes go to waste. To ensure that everyone is doing their bit for the environment, companies such as Intimissimi and H&M are involving their consumers in their cause.

With their ‘Recycling Pays’ scheme, Italian lingerie brand Intimissimi is asking people to bring any old bra, underwear or pyjama to local Intimissimi stores in exchange for a £1 to £3 voucher per item. Intimissimi then recycles the fabrics to make soundproof insulating panels used in construction. H&M has a similar approach: in exchange for a £5 voucher, people can bring clothes from any brand and in any condition to selected H&M stores worldwide – partner company I:Collect then reuses the clothes. This model makes consumers feel good about helping the environment and grateful to the brands that reward them for doing so.

BUDWEISER – SHAVE OR SAVE?

To promote their ongoing commitment to water conservation, Budweiser launched their ‘Grow one. Save a Million’ campaign – a fun and inclusive initiative that urged men across the USA to grow a beard and save water.

For the two weeks leading up to World Environment Day (June 5th) Budweiser encouraged consumers to save around 23 litres of water for each shave they missed. Women could get involved by visiting Budweiser’s facebook page and inviting their male friends to grow a beard. In order to show their support and promote the cause, fans were asked to upload their bearded photos to the Grow One Photo Booth.

By allowing consumers to get personally involved with the project, the ‘Grow one. Save a Million’ campaign increased consumers’ level of engagement and emotional connection with the brand.

VICTORIA FOOTBALL CLUB – BLOOD DONATION

Under the motto ‘Vitoria has always given its blood for you. It’s time for you to give yours’, Brazilian football club, Vitoria, has launched a charitable campaign that encourages football fans across Brazil to donate blood.

To promote the campaign, the team has dropped the red from its striped shirts and replaced it with white bands. Over the 2012/2013 football season, the four white stripes will return to red one at a time: when each donation ‘goal’ is achieved, the white band will turn to red, until all four bands are back to normal. It is that simple, if enough people donate blood, the classic colours are restored.

This creative initiative allows fans to participate actively in the campaign and gives a whole new meaning to the colours of Victoria’s football kit. From now on, red stands for blood, and when fans look at Victoria’s stripped shirt, they will feel proud to be part of a club that makes a difference to so many people’s lives.