OPINION: Marketing Society - Consistency is crucial to cause related activity

Cause related marketing is having a greater impact on the bottom line and society than ever. As the findings outlined in the latest Business in the Community research report, 'Brand Benefits', have clearly shown, cause related marketing does have a direct positive impact on the sales of a product.

Depending on the actual product, 'Brand Benefits' has found that sales have increased by up to 116% as a result of cause related marketing and in turn, they have achieved an increase in market share.

The most successful cause related marketing programmes are based on the Business in the Community's key principles of integrity, sincerity, transparency, mutual respect, partnership and mutual benefit. These must form the foundation of any partnership for it to be a win-win-win scenario for consumers, the cause or charity and the business. The programmes are long-term and consistent, while addressing a key issue that has relevance for business, the charity and consumers, as well as for society as a whole. They are also integrated into the business marketing strategy.

Over the past 12 years, Tesco has developed and evolved a successful portfolio of programmes that are relevant to a range of customers and staff. We are proud that in the BITC cause related marketing Tracker 2003 Tesco was once again the top corporate giver, and we have also seen considerable financial and non-financial impact in spend and brand equity.

Tesco 'Computers for Schools' is an award-winning example of cause related marketing in the UK and is one of the most replicated, recognised and supported. For ten weeks each year, Tesco offers a 'Computer for Schools' voucher for every £10 spent in store or petrol stations.

Shoppers are encouraged to donate vouchers to local schools, which collect them in exchange for information communications technology. So far, £84m worth of computers and other equipment has been donated to more than 24,000 schools and there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of schools collecting vouchers.

It is also important to note that cause related marketing is not always purely about sales, but can also be a significant way to motivate and engage staff. The activity must go to the heart of an organisation to be successful and have impact. Employee involvement has therefore been vital. When Tesco supported the Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK again this year we continued to gain considerable support from employees.

Marketers must raise the bar on their cause related marketing and view it as a viable and essential element of business marketing strategy if they are to reap the benefits. The successful programmes show that cause related marketing can increase sales, add value to brands, motivate staff and visibly demonstrate corporate social responsibility.

What more evidence do you need?

- Tim Mason will be co-chairing the Cause Related Marketing 2003 Annual Conference: Raising the Bar on October 30, when the complete findings of Brand Benefits will be announced. For more information call 020 7566 8693 or visit www.crm.org.uk.

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