The Dark Side of Cause-Marketing
Posted on Oct 16, 2009
Cause-related marketing, such as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, may just be a way to move products at higher prices. A new report details the difficulty well-intentioned consumers may encounter in getting a tiny portion of their purchases to go to the intended charities.
It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and its signature pink is everywhere: gracing Web sites, coating electronics, and even strapping wristwatches. Yet companies engaging in this cause-oriented marketing are not always as generous as their pink products may make them seem.
A recent Daily Finance article details the hurdles consumers must overcome to ensure that two cents of their pink-packaged Swiffer purchase actually reach the cause the pink box implies: according to a Procter & Gamble spokeswoman, the company will only make a two-cent donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation if a consumer uses a coupon from Procter & Gamble’s brand saver coupon book, which was distributed in newspapers on Sept. 27. Without the coupon, the limited-edition pink packaging on the Swiffer is simply designed to draw awareness to the cause.
Though concerns about corporate exploitation of breast cancer awareness campaigns may be unsurprising given their profitability—studies cited in Kris Frieswick’s “Sick of Pink” indicate cause-related marketing allows companies both to move more products and to do so at an often higher profit margin—the inconsistent use of the pink ribbon speaks to a more troubling problem of accountability.
Pink products and packaging abound, but may or may not result in any benefit to fighting breast cancer.