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In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, brands have to differentiate from the direct and indirect competitors for consumer and business consumption dollars. With a multitude of digital marketing platforms, tools and all the media options available in today’s marketplace marketing differentiation is easily attainable. However, with the social awakening of the masses of people, globally, beyond their personal + ethnic and chosen cultures; brands are finding a need and making a choice to take a social cause stance; if not already being forced to do so. Social Cause Marketing can be an important if not the key differentiating factor.
Consumers consciously or not, are proactively or not buying or searching for brands and products which support their own social cause aspirations; from the many possible options. Those options include but are not limited to ecological environmental sustainability, anti-hatred, anti-racism, local to global food security, healthy + wellness, anti-colonialism, wealth inequality, and some many more.
What marketers are faced with is a consumer target that might be judging a product or brand not just by its inherent 4 Ps value proposition; but also by how it interacts with and impacts our society, the climate, our world, the future, or some other social consequence or variable.
At the beginning of the studied discipline of Marketing, as it was taught in colleges and universities, the pillars of a comprehensive Strategic Tactical Marketing Plan are the 4 Ps; Price, Place, Promotions, and Product, not necessarily in that order.
- Price: The Price Points which will be most efficiently acceptable to every level of a product’s consumption pipeline. These include Wholesale Distributors, End User Facing Retailers, and Consumer and Business End Users.
- Place: In today’s reality the Online or Brick + Mortar or Combo and Hybrid point of purchase for both consumers + business End Users.
- Promotions: The Strategic Tactical Marketing Plan itself.
- Product: The physical or digital or sociological or physiological medium which meets the buyer’s aspirations, dreams, desires, hopes, needs, wants, and economic capabilities.
As a professional marketer by aspiration, avocation, education, and experiential pursuits I decided about a decade ago the 4 Ps Marketing Strategic Tactical Planning methodology was incomplete; from my POV aka Point Of View. I surmised marketing planning must be done so in light and inclusive of 3 key pillars of a modern civilized social society:
- Planetary Conservation,
- Political Correctness and
- Public Responsibility
An example of a really great and authentic social cause marketing strategic tactic; is that of The Equiano Rum Company, of London UK; which about 3 years ago launched the Super Premium Equiano Rum Brand. Equiano Rum is a first-of-its-kind blend of a pot distillate aged 10 years in French Oak Cognac casks from Gray’s Distillery in the East African Island Nation of Mauritius and a column distillate aged 8 years in USA Bourbon barrels, from the award-winning Foursquare Distillery in the Caribbean Island Nation of Barbados.
To explore the Social Cause Marketing tactic of Equiano Rum, let’s start with the brand name. The namesake of Equiano Rum is Olaudah Equiano. Let me tell you a story. Olaudah Equiano was a young man who at age 11 was kidnapped from his village in the Kingdom of Benin on the west coast of the continent of Africa. Olaudah Equiano was trafficked to the Caribbean Island notion of Barbados, by means of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. As a teen, he was sold to an owner in Boston. While in Boston, Olaudah Equiano took every opportunity he could find to improve his status and capabilities; becoming self-educated, literate and a prolific merchant, excelling at selling Rum.
By Age 21 Olaudah Equiano bought his freedom. He, not long afterward, self-published a book, entitled “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano ”!!! This book essentially helped to enable the formal Anti-Slavery Movement; by informing the Salve Trade Act of 1807. Olaudah Equiano became active globally with bases in the UK, Africa, and the USA.
He became so influential he eventually was able to address directly the Queen of England, to end large-scale Trans-Atlantic slave trafficking. Ultimately Olaudah Equiano was successful. His seminal novel was so successful and widely read after nine editions, that it became the foundation of the ideology of some of history’s most prominent Abolitionists and Scholars from the likes of Fredrick Douglass to current-day social changers such as Barack Obama.
An interesting aspect of The Equiano Rum Company’s decision to adopt the name of Olaudah Equiano, paying homage to its namesake Olaudah Equiano, is that it was organic. The brand was not developed to conform to the legacy of Olaudah Equiano.
Ian Burrell, the Global Ambassador for the Rum Category, the owner of the UK Rumfest, and a co-founder of The Equiano Rum Company collaborated with Richard Searles, the 4th Generation owner and Master Rum Distiller of Barbados Foursquare Distillery, and decided on a blend of super-premium rums from Africa and the Caribbean. There were elements of the Equiano Rum Brand and the Life of Olaudah Equiano which made the naming make sense. The Social Cause, of course, is that of the legacy of Olaudah Equiano himself.
The Equiano Rum Company donates 5% of its profits and $2 per bottle sold online, to Anti-Slavery International; the world’s oldest human rights organization. The Equiano Rum Company also aligns with the movements and organizations, which share its values and social mission.
The existence of the Equiano Rum brand has also helped to shed light on a lack of the complete history of the USA being taught in schools nationwide. When a historical figure such as Olaudah Equiano, as important as he is to the history of the USA, is nearly unknown in the USA, we have a problem. This is so due to the racist sentiment and resistance towards the teaching of African American history in the USA.
Resources, to help brands to publicize social cause marketing tactics are emerging. A publishing Startup based in Chicago, a few years ago launched a social cause news and information site, BNTheMix.com. BNTheMix targeting late GenXers and Millennials has as its tagline connecting Social Causes and the People who care. The bootstrapping publishers are seeking to relaunch BNTheMix, now that the Social Causes are becoming ever more important to consumers of all age groups, nationalities, ethnicities, geographies, and walks of life.
From the biggest brands to the newest startup and community businesses, if not already done so, it is time to develop targeted, social cause marketing tactics for all comprehensive Strategic Marketing Plans and plans implementations.
The moral of this article is, that the Brand which does not stand for anything good might be supporting or inadvertently enabling something not so good!!!