Do the (RED) Thing

One of the most successful examples of cause marketing is the Product Red campaign that was launched in 2006. This was when the Red foundation paired up with recognizable brands such as Starbucks, Gap, Coke and Apple to raise money for HIV/AIDS. Since its launch, the organization has raised $215 million. This money goes straight to The Global Fund, who invests 100% of the earnings to HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. This marketing seems to be benefiting both parties because while the nonprofit is raising money and visibility, the for-profit is gaining customers who support the cause. BRSL_Lockup_October2013

The reason cause marketing is so popular is because it gives consumers an extrinsic and intrinsic reward  for their purchases. The extrinsic motivation to buy the product is the product itself. While the intrinsic motivation is to walk away knowing that you just donated money to a good cause. In the book Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky describes how times are changing and people are now doing things just because they want to, not because they are getting rewarded. I agree with him and believe that people are still going to buy products that they already wanted or needed before they found out it was connected to an organization. If someone wants Starbucks, they are going to get it whether or not it is on the day that the company is donating to the Red foundation.

What do you think? Have you ever gone out of your way to buy a certain product, because you knew a percentage of your purchase was going to go to a good cause? Would you buy a Red iPod, even though you wanted the green one? Take a minute and think about if you are more driven by intrinsic or extrinsic motives.

-Ashley Creps

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12 thoughts on “Do the (RED) Thing

  1. I do think that there is something to the extrinsic rewards of buying a product that you know is going to benefit a cause. When a company is doing something like this it makes you like the company more than you might have prior. Also, I feel like when you go to a place like starbucks and some of their products do benefit a cause, you might end up spending more money than you would have previously. I feel like both you and the company can feel better about your purchase! Thanks for writing about this.

    • I appreciate your comment and like your ideas on cause marketing. I gave an example of going to Starbucks on a day that they are not doing donations for their coffee, but you made a good point that they have products such as coffee beans that donate money to the Red foundation. So even if you only went in for a grande vanilla bean frappuccino that doesn’t give a percentage to the organization, you can still spend more money than intended and buy the coffee beans as well.

  2. I try to shop local whenever I can to support my community. Would I switch coffee shops just because the other is donating to a worthy cause? I guess that depends on my mood that day. 🙂 I do love that companies do this type of thing though she says, as a wearer of TOMS, shoes I didn’t even really like the design of….. 🙂

  3. This is an awesome example of cause marketing! I think the effectiveness of this type of marketing varies so much based on how much variance from what you set out to purchase the cause requires. For example, the red iPod is asking for a lot of variation if you wanted a pink one. And unless supporting the cause is easy, I’m more inclined to just donate a certain amount. A modest donation would probably even leave the cause with more money! But it’s also important to consider that you’re buying the ability to showcase your personality. Getting the (RED) iPod might barely support the cause, but everyone who sees you with it will recognize your support. And like you mentioned, people who see the campaign will add that collaboration to the personality that they understand the brand to have.

  4. After reading this blog, I am evaluating my own life to see if there are local businesses who could benefit from purchases I am already making at a larger national store. Although I would love to support a local “home grown” business here in town, it is very hard to break away from the low prices of companies such as Wal-mart & Target. In regards to the Red campaign I am already purchasing a red Coke a few times a week and will continue to do some possibly in part because I now know its repercussions but also because of my current practice. I also see the value in the brand recognition. The small donation I am making by purchasing a red soda is miniscule in comparison to the amount of attention I can bring to the cause by talking with people about the red soda and why I chose this soda and this color. A recognition of your support for a cause might be enough for your peers to also support that same cause. This would be much more beneficial than the 3 sodas I would purchase each week.

  5. I found this blog very interesting to read because just last week I found myself purchasing a bag of chips that was a different brand than what I usually buy, but on the bag it said that a percentage of the purchase would go towards helping our troops. It didn’t take more than five seconds for me to decide on getting this brand as opposed to the one I normally buy, because even if these were not the best chips I had ever had, I would still feel like I did something good, and that made me feel even better. Turns out, the chips weren’t bad at all and as long as they keep donating for a goos cause, I will keep purchasing them.

  6. There have most definitely been many times in which I have purchased something because the money would be donated to a good cause. Specifically, and more recently, it was breast cancer awareness month and I bought products from several different brands that I would not normally buy. Even PENCILS! My aunt has breast cancer, therefore when I see that if I purchase a certain product the money will go toward this cause, I will more than likely buy it. I recently bought coffees, pencils and even shoelaces purely to donate the money. It made me feel great walking away knowing that I did a good thing!

  7. I love this idea of cause marketing. I think I buy things for intrinsic motives often. One example is my TOMS shoes. I first bought them when I heard they donated a pair of shoes to someone in need with my purchase! After the first time I bought a pair I was hooked, now I buy them for both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Also I see different schools around town that do fundraisers at restaurants and instead of cooking that night or hitting my usual spots, I will grab some friends and eat there for that meal. I do not get to give back as much as I would like because I am paying my way through college and trying to make it on my own, so when companies partner with non-profit organizations it makes giving back a little easier!!

  8. I think that this cause marketing is brilliant! Pairing a product or just the color of a particular product to a cause will always spark people’s interest. I remember when beats by dre first released their red headphones supporting this organization. They were a little more expensive, but the proceeds went to the Red cause. I actually deliberated very vigorously on getting them and contributing to the cause, but later decided not to. I think now that I would decide to buy a red device over another color if the money was donated to research causes. Advertising will always be able to use intrinsic ideas to persuade customers, the better cause has a way of becoming more and more appealing with the more items out there.

  9. This is a very interesting topic because it leaves myself as a consumer at a crossroad. Its where I begin and many probably wonder if companies are only doing such things to gain consumer favor or do they truly support a cause or idea. Its easy to get opinionated about the topic because companies are trying to make money but at what point do they lose their humanity? Is Coca Cola only supporting this cause so I recognize they are doing something about HIV and I will buy their product? Or does this mean I’m the shallow one if I’m buying their product because they are doing this. Its hard to pick a position with out being a pessimist. The human in me thinks these things are being done for the right reason but the skeptic in me is thinking they are just trying to turn a profit.

  10. I love this cause and think it is an awesome concept. I actually have a Red Ipod that was the first Red Ipod that Apple released. I picked this Ipod specifically because Apple was going to donate a percentage of the product to a cause. The other day was “Red” day at Starbucks, and they had red cups and were donating a percentage to Product Red Campaign. I made sure to swing by Starbucks this day so that my coffee would help the cause, even if it was just a small fraction. I think businesses teaming up with a cause is an amazing thing even if the business has ulterior motives.

  11. I used to purchase “Pink Lemonade” 5-Hour-Energy, because it carried the pink ribbon associated with breast cancer causes. After habitually purchasing that same product for a few months, I noticed that the “Pink Lemonade” flavor no longer carried that stamp, and it was applied to the new flavor 5-Hour-Energy they were promoting. I realized that they were using the pink ribbon more as a promotion device, than in order to support the good causes, and felt slightly manipulated. It does feel good to spend money on a product I want, and think I’m helping a cause just because the product was a particular color, which I’m not so sure is a good thing.

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