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Cause Marketing for Commodity Items

It's classic economics.

If you're a farmer and you sell a commodity like winter wheat or red delicious apples, you're stuck with the lowest prices, because there's little you can do as an individual farmer to make your product stand out from your competitors.

But fruit growers can do something that wheat growers can't: they can join a cooperative that tries to brand the fruit as somehow superior. Are Sunkist oranges any better than regular oranges? Who knows? But they do command a premium price.

Could cause marketing help commodity producers preserve some pricing power?

This sticker on a watermelon purchased at a local grocery store made me wonder.

The watermelon is called a 'Pink Ribbon Watermelon' from C.H. Robinson on Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and it promises to 'donate a portion of our sales to breast cancer organizations.'

The sticker seems like a half-effort to me that might not actually help C.H. Robinson preserve pricing power.

The 'portion of the proceeds' language is weak. People need more information than this from brands they don't know. Likewise, it would be better if the campaign specified a particular charity or charities. The pink ribbon alone isn't enough.

C.H. Robinson could also go cheeky with some kind of 'Save the Melons' campaign. Done right, that would generate all kinds of publicity.


@meganstrand said…
Great post and agreed: the "portion of the proceeds" language is weak and needs more specificity.

I love the idea of co-ops using cause marketing to differentiate themselves. To date, many of them have banded together under an "organic" or "local" campaign, with great success.

It makes me think of both Levi's and Burgerville, who have done an immense amount of work to bring some of these co-ops together in their respective industries (read more about them on my blog) around sustainability issues. Seems like it would be a natural tie-in for these types of companies and co-ops to partner together around a specific cause, as well.

Great idea! And, really, the "melon" campaign would rock the world - love it!
Hi Megan:

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad to find your blog and website.

I'm glad a well that you put together the idea of cause marketing and co-ops.

Cause marketing is flexible enough that it could work with small co-ops and giant ones alike (Ocean Spray, Land-O-Lakes, etc.)

Again, thanks!

Warm regards,

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