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To Take a Page from Kohl's Cause Marketing Success, Start With IKEA

Last week I confessed my man-crush on Kohl’s and their remarkable cause marketing efforts using stuffed animals, books, CDs and toys: Since the year 2000, Kohl’s has generated $180 million for kids’ causes.

But Kohl’s has more than 1100 stores in 49 states. Could Kohl’s approach scale down to a business with just 1-2 storefronts?

My answer is an equivocation. Kohl’s has done deals with whoever owns the rights to Dr. Suess, among many other name-brand children’s book authors. A small operator like Dante’s Pizza, a real three-store chain in Dothan, Alabama that I Googled, wouldn’t be able to pull off that kind of deal.

But the good news is that they probably wouldn’t have to do it exactly the way Kohl’s does.

At the left is a flyer from big-box retailer IKEA, which has around 50 stores in the United States. Buy one of their toys during the promotional period and IKEA’s foundation will donate $1 to education programs from Save the Children and UNICEF.

IKEA’s U.S. website says that in 2010 the same promotion generated more than $15 million for the two charities.

The toys aren’t themed to IKEA or co-branded with anything else. They’re just toys that are exceptionally well-priced. Just as Kohl’s prices their Kohl’s Cares for Kids items for its customer profile, so too does IKEA.

The secret for IKEA’s cause marketing promotion is the same as their overall business model, namely buying well.

So if Dante’s Pizza in Dothan wanted to try a cause marketing promotion like IKEA’s, they’d just need to find appealing toys that they could get inexpensively and then sell for a competitive price, say $5 or less.

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