Wanted: A Theory of How to Activate Multiple Cause Marketing Campaigns

In this season of the year, it’s easy for a retailer to be involved in two or three or even more cause promotions at the same time. But when you activate these promotions should you aggregate them together, or spread them around?

Case in point is this recent weekly flyer from a local grocery chain with 24 outlets called Fresh Market.

On the top left is their paper icon campaign, which is meant to deliver a holiday meal to families in need. To its right is an announcement that Fresh Market stores serve as a drop-off point for Toys for Tots. Below that is a vendor program from Kraft that Fresh Market participates in and which benefits local food banks.

Now, plainly, someone from Fresh Market decided to group all these cause promotions together on one page, since the full flyer was six pages long.

But is aggregating them the right approach?

So much of what this blog is about is activating cause marketing promotions. But I confess that I have no idea whether Fresh Market got this right or wrong. I can say that I’ve never seen research that took up this specific subject.

You could certainly make an argument for combining cause marketing campaigns. It could be that when consumers see multiple examples of the chain’s involvement in the community in one place that they are more likely to affix a halo to the company. 

Or, it could be that because all the cause marketing takes place on one page, that when people ignore one campaign they ignore them all. Or, it could be both.

It would be easy to test which approach is best using qualitative methods. You simply put the flyer in several different formats and then ask people which approach they prefer and why.

Fresh Market could also A-B test of its flyer to get a sense of correlation. If they get way more toy donations or more Kraft coupon redemptions at one store than at a demographically-similar store, it could suggest that the flyer had something to do with it. 

And, it could be that what works best in print ads doesn’t work in online efforts or mobile promotions. What we need here is a basic theory, even if we have to borrow it from another discipline.

Got a theory? Please chime in below in the comments section.

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