Academic journal article IUP Journal of Marketing Management

Cause Marketing - the Corporate, Consumer and Cause Partnership for Mutual Benefit: An India Perspective

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Marketing Management

Cause Marketing - the Corporate, Consumer and Cause Partnership for Mutual Benefit: An India Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

Corporate association with charitable organizations in India is gaining momentum mainly due to the increasing acceptability of the concept and practice of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) coupled with consumer expectations from businesses of their societal impact. CSR in India focuses on activities done with the profits after they are made (PWC, 2013); on the other hand, in the process of making profits, business can fund non-profit organization/charitable projects along with customer engagements in a bid to address societal problems, manifesting social responsibility through a practice called c ause m a r k e t i n g . C a u s e m a rk e t in g, a s d e f i n e d b y Con e Co m mu n ic a t i o n s , i s "a business strategy that helps organizations support a social cause to gain significant bottom line and social impacts while making an emotional and relevant connection to stakeholders" (Cone Communications, 2007). Cause marketing has grown rapidly in western countries, mostly in North America and Europe (Adkins, 1999), and the practice is catching up in India. Successful programs like "Project Shakti", "Jaago Re", "Padhega India Badhega In dia" have laid the foundation for this emerging area of social responsibility that allows firms to link their philanthropic activities with the marketing goals of the firm. The current paper examines the contemporar y approaches to the cause marketing in India. The innova tive methods adopted in linking the three cornerstones of cause marketing are the corporate, charity and the causes by analyzing three case studies for its purpose and strategic intent. The paper also provides an outlook for the future.

History and Traditional Approaches to Cause Marketing in India

Traditionally, corporate India contributed to the social sector through philanthropic activities, characterized by allocation of money to charity or religious institutions. Though corporates had a strong will to contribute their resources towards social development, what was missing wa s a long-term commitment to social initia tives. Even after liberalization, which has helped the country see unprecedented growth in the private sector, India still ranks poorly on several socioeconomic dimensions. Even as the companies bill mandates CSR spending, failure to incorporate strategic investments towards social development has denied the necessary benefits. Michael Porter's concept of shared value, where the economic development of a company is strongly tied to the social development of its surrounding community, is an indicator for corporates to believe that they can increase their profits while also improving the community's quality of life.

Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) is one of the many ways in which companies can improve the quality of life of the community within which it operates. CRM was first defined by Varadarajan and Menon (1988, p. 60) as "the process of formulating and implementing marketing activities that are characterized by an offer from the firm to contribute a specified amount to a designated cause when customers engage in revenueproviding exchanges that satisfy organizational and individual objectives". An example that leads to this definition is the Amex marketing campaign of 1983, the first CRM campaign developed by American Express in the US to raise funds for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty (Adkins, 1999; and Vanhamme et al., 2012). Following the success of this innovative strategy, commercial relationship between a business and a cause has grown in prominence in the west with businesses supporting causes ranging from environmental concerns, animal welfare, public health and safety. Some of these partnerships have become very successful that they have become universal symbols like the Red Ribbon for awareness and support for those living with HIV, the Pink Ribbon for the support of breast cancer awareness, and the green concept for support of environmental efforts. …

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