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.

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