Cause marketing has been proven to boost sales, engagement and customer loyalty, but are the new models of embedded generosity a passing fad or the new fundamental? Knowing what we do about the phenomenon in human behavior that is conspicuous conservation, perhaps we can use this notion to our advantage and—more importantly—the advantage of those in need to create a new standard for consumer goods.
Let’s take clothing as an example. Made for Good is a new consortium of like-minded apparel brands, which currently includes Jedidiah, MusiCares apparel, Beautiful Feet, United Artist Network, and Rain Tees, that each use product sales to raise money for charity. There are five key ways that this brand is using conspicuous consumption to the advantage of the brand’s beneficiaries:
- Align with causes that people recognize and care about. Each Made for Good apparel brand aligns with a non-profit partner and uses embedded generosity to raise money through the sale of its products. They have carefully selected causes that also have strong recognition, such as World Vision, MusiCares and the Central American rainforest.
- Give your customers a way to showcase their good deed. All Made for Good products carry the Made For Good authenticity badge, which is a flag to those around you that you care about more than looking good in what you wear—your pants also helped serve people in need or save the Earth.
- Give them something to talk about. A recent study showed that the best way to rack up re-tweets on Twitter was to ignite powerful emotions within your followers. Made for Good is investing in the notion that this concept can be transferred to purchases in stores and online as well. One needs only to take a quick read through Jedidiah’s look book, browse the Beautiful Feet website or watch this MusiCares video to be met with punch-you-in-the-heart inspiration, the type of emotion that breeds loyal and passionate followers who will be eager to spread the word.
- Get out into the public. From fashion runways to rock concerts, each Made for Good brand identifies key events their customers attend to create a presence and raise awareness about the brand. Selling clothes at these events is a secondary goal behind familiarizing as many people as possible with the brand, handing out promotional items and engaging in meaningful conversations.
- Be personally committed to your cause. Tugging on heart strings and inspiring followers to support you with reckless abandon doesn’t happen without three key ingredients: time, relationships, and a deeper passion for the philanthropy than the profits. Like many modern-day innovations, Made for Good was the result of a decade of development. Kevin Murray, one-half of the team behind Made for Good, is the founder of KJM Enterprises, a screen-printing company that works with many well-known national and international brands. Inspired by his brother, who had created a network of auto-body mechanics who were using their sales to support causes in less fortunate places, Kevin transformed Jedidiah, a surf-inspired men’s and women’s apparel company, into his first embedded generosity brand years ago. With the knowledge that can only come from time and experience under his belt, he teamed up with Krista Treide, whose professional resume touts experiences working with such brands as Nike, UGG Australia, Tommy Bahama, Reebok, Speedo, and Michael Stars, with the goal of leveraging the power of the retail industry to make a positive difference in the world.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, the story of Made for Good might sound familiar by now. There are no shortage of brands that have infused models of embedded generosity into their companies to increase both sales and support for their related causes. The "one for one" model has been introduced into companies who sell everything from shoes (TOMS) to bed mattresses (Into Bed We Go) to reading glasses (Warby Parker), and there is a long history of brands like Patagonia who have seen success in embedded generosity models. We’re even seeing the trend getting pickup from major corporations, such as L’Oreal Paris, which has raised millions to fight ovarian cancer through sales of their Color of Hope cosmetics collection, and Sony, Verizon, Kodak, and other companies who are employing the service of the Glue Network.
Armed with the awareness that the more they grow, the more they give, this is just the beginning for the Made for Good collective and, I believe, the embedded generosity model as a fundamental building block for a wide range of companies.
[Image: Flickr user Ryo]