The following is a guest post by Ed Martin, Director of Marketing Excellence and CSR Insights, The Hershey Company and Katya Andresen, Chief Operating Officer, Network for Good. This article originally appeared on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center's blog at BCLCBlog.com
[Part two of a four-part series]
One of the best ways to move to purpose-driven marketing is to start it at the earliest stages of the marketing process: in our consumer research. This has several advantages: it turns research into an engagement tool and force for good, and it gives consumers a positive reason to help shape brands by sharing their attitudes and beliefs about them.
Following are several ways to do this, the first being a relatively simple initial step and the others increasingly significant in their impact.
Conducting online research to benefit good causes
Billions are spent in "points" and online incentives to get people to take market research surveys. This fails to compel most people to want to participate. But there are some new initiatives, including Research for Good in partnership with Network for Good, “Pause to Support a Cause,” and Survey for Good. They all allow companies to field surveys to support the cause of a consumer’s choice. The consumer takes a survey, and the incentive is a donation to whichever cause is closest to that person’s heart. The very act of gleaning consumer insights becomes an engagement for social good.
So if a person waiting for a friend at Starbucks wants to help with the devastation of malaria killing children every day, they can qualify for being part of a survey and then spend 10 minutes taking that survey before their friend arrives – enough to buy a malaria net to save a child's life – not a bad way to spend 10 minutes waiting for a friend.
Augmenting points based sample with other incentive based sample will make the total sample more projective, higher quality and bring in many hard to reach groups that marketers have a difficult time connecting to – all while helping people in need.
In addition, researchforgood.com and networkforgood.org are partnering to place polls on charities’ websites with the same result in mind: consumers weigh in, companies gain insights and causes get resources for their missions.
Conducting offline research in partnership with good causes
The next type of engagement brings social good into offline research.
Imagine spending three hours with 300 children and 150 parents doing quantitative and qualitative research in a city of choice for $15k – where most of that money goes to helping poor children.!!
The Doug Pitt Care to Learn foundation model and their enormous community network (including groups such as SIFE) - provides access to consumers and a facility for conducting research in the very place the community mobilizes. You can use your preferred market research supplier to conduct the research and write the report, but by lowering the costs of recruiting subjects and hosting focus groups, you save money – while doing good.
This is another win-win: consumer research for a fraction of the price – all while contributing to a positive social impact and lending a halo effect to your brand.
Partnering to engage harder to reach communities
What if you are doing ethnographies or research in places as diverse as the South Bronx to Moscow to Beijing to Nairobi?
We have partnered with top organizations and non-profits that are a part of these communities and live in these areas to achieve these ends (e.g. healthpeople.org in the South Bronx, sife.org in China, Russia, Mexico, U.S. and even William Morris Endeavor Foundation in Compton). The idea is simple yet powerful: Work with communities who best know their peers to gain insights while supporting the community at the same time.
This approach is far more reliable and constructive and yet less expensive than conventional approaches. It taps resident expertise, uncovers cultural idiosyncrasies and allows for continuity and commitment to the market for follow-up research and ongoing positive social impact. Everyone wins.
For example, if you were seeking to reach the African American community with important products/services and would like to conduct research, co-innovate products and partner for selling these products, you could partner with Pat Ware (President and CEO of Shiloh International Productions), who works closely with National Coalition of Pastors Spouses. This group of 3000 churches is dedicated to the health and wellness of the African American community, especially in urban areas. You could partner to innovate and optimize products while supporting health and wellness in the community. This approach greatly increase the odds that you place the right product and services with the right people in an effective and meaningful way.
In another example, Ashoka.org often works with traditional trade stores and businesses in developing markets to support training to improve quality of life and community – and for a simple funding trade to continue to help this work, they can often allow a company to partner with these stores to test new products, pricing, packaging, and placement. Instead of spending a year and massive amount of time and money creating your own store test lab one, could simply donate to Ashoka to leverage their infrastructure, sustain their work, conduct research and tests, and build relationships with store keepers who appreciate the brand’s positive role in their life and community.
Partnering to uncover trends
Purpose-driven marketing and nonprofit partnerships can also uncover trends early.
For example, Ghetto Films in NYC teaches talented youth from tough neighborhoods the art of film. As trends often start among youth in urban areas, support of the project is an excellent way not only to accomplish social good but also to gain valuable insights through narrative and film.
Or, what if you wanted to reach Millennial opinion-leaders? The Global Poverty Project uses offline and online community organizing techniques to engage students in a global movement to end poverty. They connect with youth audiences via live interactive presentations in colleges throughout the U.S., UK, and Australia. And they deepen engagement via the Commitment Journey, an online platform powered by Qindred Research. Global Poverty Project is chaired by Debra Lee Furness, wife of Hugh Jackman, who is actively involved as well as public spokesman for the organization.
Look for part 3 of this series on Monday, June 20.