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Engaging Multicultural Consumers through the Causes They Care About

Apr 30, 2013

I spend a lot of my time at ThinkInk producing content for a client of ours called Kula Causes.

The tech startup has created an online platform where companies with loyalty programs can offer their customers and members the ability to convert any unused points, miles or other rewards into donations that go directly to causes and nonprofits their choosing. They have over two million causes to choose all around the world, and there’s also a consumer-centric website where people can donate directly to these causes without having to be part of a loyalty program.

Kula’s idea is that today, when consumers are more cause-conscious than ever before, companies can earn more goodwill and loyalty by acting as conduits for their customers’ charitable impulses. Research shows that about $16 billion in loyalty rewards – a third of all rewards earned in the US – goes unredeemed every year.

According to Nielsen, two-thirds (66%) of consumers would prefer to buy from companies that have some kind of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative in place. The research firm also found that almost half of consumers (46%) would be willing to pay more for products or services from socially-responsible companies.

Considering these numbers, it’s clearly a great idea to allow consumers to tap into that dormant $16 billion of unredeemed miles, which otherwise would go to waste, and use it to support worthy causes.

Kula immediately came to mind while I read this intriguing blog post from Hispanic marketing and communications scholar Felipe Korzenny, who teaches at Florida State University. With the help of Research Now, Korzenny recently conducted a study exploring the ways in which Americans of different races and ethnicities think businesses should give back to society.

To my surprise, all the included groups –  both US and foreign-born Latinos, African-Americans, US and foreign-born Asians, and Non-Hispanic Whites – agree that the most important way companies can give back is by supporting job-creation initiatives. Initiatives that keep jobs in the local community came in second, followed by environmental causes, scholarship programs and employee volunteer work programs.

And it makes sense: jobs and the sluggish economic recovery were the most important issues for Americans who voted in the November 2012 election. With the following one-two punch of higher payroll taxes and the sequestration cuts, these concerns are sure to remain top-of-mind for the vast majority of Americans for the forseeable future.

The Takeaway?

Courtesy of Kula Causes, here’s a sampling of some cause marketing initiatives going on around the world right now. Companies would do well to implement cause marketing initiatives and align themselves with causes that matter to their customers – to strengthen their connections with customers and earn their goodwill. And even better if they can deliver these campaigns through mobile devices and social media.

Latinos, Asians and African-Americans are the most active groups on mobile and are more likely to access the Internet primarily through their handheld devices, a trend that’s going to keep growing.

By harnessing the power of cause marketing and mobile, companies can do so much more to strengthen relationships, foster lasting loyalty and create positive, tangible change within their communities at home or far away.

What are the best cause marketing campaigns you’ve seen, and what makes them great? I welcome you to sound off in the comments section below.

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