Skip to main content

Open Your Own Pink Ribbon Merchandise Line, Why?

A grad student recently sent me a series of questions about the future of cause marketing and one of the things I see more of over the near term is causes putting out their own lines of branded merchandise. When I look at this pink miniskirt skirt from the Loft benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, I wonder why.

Right now when you buy this sequined miniskirt (in ‘blushing rose’) for $70, the Loft will give 25 percent to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Clothing at retail is said to be marked up between 100 and 350 percent, more for luxury brands. Little surprise then that enterprising nonprofit managers look at these margins longingly. “We have a compelling brand,” they say, “and an engaged user base willing to buy things from us directly. Why not build a merchandise line?”

But. But. But.

Ann Taylor Stores Corporation, which owns the Loft, has almost 60 years experience figuring out what women want and what they like to wear. The 510 Loft stores have clerks trained to sell and fit women. If you’re dissatisfied with a purchase, the Loft has a return policy. There are 14 Loft outlet stores for the merchandise that doesn’t sell as well. The Loft has a method for dealing with merchandise that doesn’t sell even at the outlet stores.

The Loft knows where to get goods manufactured. It knows which factories are efficient and effective. It knows who’s honest and easy-to-work with. It knows how to tell the good designers from the bad. It knows how to get a container-load of blushing rose miniskirts to the Port of Long Beach, and from there to its stores. It knows how long that trip across the Pacific should take. It knows what to do if that container of blushing rose miniskirts blows off the deck of the cargo ship into the Pacific during a storm.

The Loft has a highly-functional website optimized for selling clothing to women. And, if you don’t like what you buy online, it has a way of letting you return the merchandise. If you call their 800-number, someone answers.

Finally, there is this. If the viscose that the skirt is made of turns out to be sub-par, or the sequins detach too easily, only the most dyspeptic among us blames the Breast Cancer Research Foundation or think less of it. But if the BCRF sold the skirt directly then a bad garment would reflect poorly on the Foundation.

I can see the temptation for charities to get into their own branded merchandise. $35 (assuming a 100 percent markup) is more than 25 percent of $70, after all. But for most causes, I don’t think the rewards outweigh the risks.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.


Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…