Magazine article Marketing

Is There Profit in CRM Tie-Ups?

Magazine article Marketing

Is There Profit in CRM Tie-Ups?

Article excerpt

New research highlights long-term brand benefits from cause related marketing.

Eat a packet of crisps or shop in one of the big supermarkets, and chances are you won't be far from a cause related marketing (CRM) programme. From collectable tokens for school equipment to breast cancer awareness T-shirts, a growing number of companies and brands are tapping into the potential benefits of CRM activity.

But despite the increasing popularity of CRM activity, is there really any concrete benefit to a brand, retailer or utility company, and just what kind of impact on consumer behaviour does it really make?

These are the questions tackled by Business in the Community's latest research study, conducted by Research International UK for BITC's Cause Related Marketing Campaign. Titled 'Profitable Partnerships', it was unveiled last week at BITC's tenth CRM conference, attended by 300 delegates.

The research, conducted among over 2000 consumers, answers crucial questions such as 'Has CRM actually made a difference to consumers' relationships with brands and companies?', 'Has it actually changed the way consumers purchase?' and 'Has CRM actually provided differentiation for brands or increased loyalty?'

According to the study, awareness of CRM programmes is at a high. Today, almost nine out of ten consumers are aware of CRM, while five years ago they would have been hard pushed to name more than a handful of programmes. More specifically, 88% of consumers have heard of a CRM programme when prompted, and on average UK adults have heard of at least four CRM programmes.

No doubt the involvement of household brand names like Tesco (Computers for Schools) Avon (Crusade Against Breast Cancer) and British Gas (Help The Aged) has helped raise the profile of this part of the marketing mix.

Seen and heard

BITC is attributing the high awareness to two things -- visibility and consumer involvement. The seven CRM programmes with the highest awareness levels, including Tesco Computers for Schools and Sainsbury's Equipment for Schools, have all been advertised on TV.

Three have a key media partner, including McVitie's and Mirror Group Free Maths Stuff for Schools, Walkers and News International Free Books for Schools and Tetley Tea and Express Newspapers.

The top five programmes in awareness terms involve consumers in a collecting scheme, asking them to gather tokens or vouchers for resources in schools. The next five also encouraged direct consumer participation. According to the research, at least two thirds of the population has taken part in a CRM programme, in activities ranging from collecting tokens to ringing a donation hotline.

Sue Adkins, director of CRM for BITC, highlights the importance of having an involving CRM campaign. She says: "CRM isn't just about offering 'buy this and lop goes to that' -- there has to be a greater marketing mix to build awareness and secure emotional engagement and loyalty."

With so many consumers involved in CRM, there is little room left for cynicism. Most of those who don't participate do so through inertia and apathy. Only 1% did not participate because they felt it was not businesses' responsibility to tackle social issues, and less than 1% said their reason for non-participation was because they felt this type of activity was exploitative.

Colin Buckingham, chief executive of Research International, explains: "There is no dark reason why some consumers are not participating. …

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