Do Marketers Always Want Consumer’s To Consume?

In marketing we call our target consumers. Yet not all marketing goals or messages are about increasing consumption. Sometimes marketers want the target market to consume something different, consume less, or simply consume an idea.

Patagonia famously ran an ad with the headline “Don’t Buy This Jacket” on Black Friday. They sell clothing, but their overall mission is, “We’re in business to save our home planet. We aim to use the resources we have–our voice, our business, and our community–to do something about our climate crisis.”

Patagonia balances selling new clothes with its mission. For example, they encourage consumers to consume less by trading in old Patagonia clothes to be resold with its Wornwear program. They call for climate action on Twitter, and share conservation messages on their YouTube channel.

One video features Salvar Una Cuenca running to save a watershed. Another has an employee explaining how to repair a zipper to keep a jacket longer. The message is getting through. In a recent Harris Poll, Patagonia is listed as the most reputable company in the U.S.

Sometimes marketers want consumers to consume more of their product by consuming more but by consuming something different. An example is Campbell’s sharing recipes featuring their condensed soup as a key ingredient.

Campbell’s meets the needs of busy adults giving them quick and easy recipes that while increasing purchase of their soup. They send the message where their target is looking for meal ideas with timely posts on Pinterest like “Get hammy with your Easter leftovers.”

Gatorade is another example. They don’t want their consumers to consume more sports drinks during workouts. They want their target to drink Gatorade over competitor Powerade.

They position themselves as hydration for high school athletes by helping their target tell their sports stories on social media. They created a free app “Highlights” for teen athletes to capture and share pro videos of their best sports moments.

A nonprofit or government agency often wants marketing messages that encourage consumers to consume less such as a natural resource conservation effort. Right now many western states are facing severe droughts. They need marketing messages to get residents to consume less water.

Some public health efforts aim for no consumption. The Truth anti-tobacco campaign has used marketing to reduce teen smoking. In the 1990s, they used PSA TV ads to reach their audience. Now Truth is reaching teens on Instagram and Youtube to reduce teen vaping.

Other marketing messages encourage donations. The nonprofit Dress for Success targets women on Facebook to donate their professional clothes, talents, and time to help other women obtain opportunities and reach economic independence.

What other goals do social media marketing efforts try to accomplish for organizations, businesses, or clients?

To learn more on consumers, target markets and target audiences see “Are You My Audience? 6 Misconceptions About Target Audiences in Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategy.”

Cause Marketing to Boost Startups and Small Business

There are many benefits for small businesses or startups to engage in cause marketing. For those who do not have resources to run a full marketing program a cause campaign can raise visibility by providing local or even national media attention. It also creates a positive image that provides a competitive edge over the competition. Research shows people will choose products that support a cause over ones that don’t. That immediate customer goodwill created through the cause marketing campaign can translate into long term customer loyalty while engaging, attracting and retaining quality employees. Many Nonprofit’s also hold fundraisers, which can provide small businesses and startups networking opportunities with stakeholders and potential clients or investors. An ad I did for a local restaurant supported local food banks.

Despite not having the funding to take part in large-scale efforts, there are ways a small business or new startup can engage in cause marketing through participation and sponsorship in local charity events or activities. The book Cause Marketing for Nonprofits provides some examples including the participation of banks in the Food Bank for New York City Bank-to-Bank partnership and the Canadian Cancer Society’s daffodils sale through Thrifty Foods.

I found an example of local small businesses using cause marketing in a Jewelry trade magazine. Many jewelry stores are still locally owned and family run small businesses that can benefit from cause marketing efforts. One way is for jewelers to participate in local silent auctions through donations. They bring media attention and goodwill to the business and could turn into longer term cause marketing efforts. Another example is a jeweler who created “Battery Mondays” in an effort to raise money for Jewelers for Children. The jeweler says people specifically come in on Monday to make sure the proceeds benefit a nonprofit. Designating a day of the week to benefit a nonprofit is an effective method to increase traffic and sales on traditionally slow days.

Other suggested small business efforts I found included book drives for local child’s learning centers, support for local museums, field trips for children at local schools or sponsoring children’s sports teams and league charitable events. The local hardware store by my house raises money for Vickie’s Angel Walk – a local nonprofit with a mission of helping families fighting cancer who have difficulties paying their bills during the challenging times of fighting their cancer. The small business owner makes it easy to make a donation to the cause at checkout.

A tech startup version of these efforts could be donating a small amount of new account fees to a cause or nonprofit the target audience cares about. Then get other websites and bloggers to promote it for you. Encourage current and new customers the share the effort via social media.

What cause can you support to help jump start your business?