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Why Your Company Should Master Cause Marketing 2.0

In the early days of cause marketing, it was enough to donate a percentage of your product's price to a worthy charity in order attract the attention of socially conscious consumers. Today, not so much. Now, many consumers approach their purchases with the assumption that if a brand truly wants to win their loyalty, it will be associated with a worthy cause in some way. What seems to tips the scales for them is an authentic commitment to cause marketing 2.0, which I think of as the willingness of a company to give consumers a more meaningful and interactive connection with charities.
Case in point: last week, at the Youth Mega Mashup in San Diego, I heard a fascinating talk by Laura Rangel, the president of Karito Kids, a line of six 21-inch poseable dolls that represent girls around the world. The dolls come with their own adventure books that depict the life of an 11-year-old girl in each country and culture (the U.S., China, Mexico, Italy, Australia, and Kenya). The idea, of course, is to raise global awareness and increase tolerance among young girls. If you're thinking "American Girl," not so fast. 3% of the retail price of every doll goes to a charity to help another child; kids can choose which charity the donation goes to by going online and registering a code. They can then continue to visit, where they can play games, earn virtual currency called World ChangeTM and direct additional gifts to one of four causes: school, home, health, or food. Each of the six dolls also has a blog, where fans can comment and carry on conversations.

The company was launched in late August of 2007, and has since won 40 industry awards. "We've done two national focus groups," says Rangel, " and we found that when parents learned about the company, the conversion rate was enormous. It became clear that kids see hypocrisy very quickly. They understand when marketers are real and authentic."

Rangel also cited a study by Yankelovich revealing that customers are not enticed by companies that donate a percentage of sales to charities, but are far more likely to purchase if they have control over the donation. Chalk it up to the mass customization craze, but it seems like consumers crave control over just about every aspect of their purchases. Kids, apparently, are no exception.

I thought that Rangel's presentation was an interesting case study in how small companies can compete with giants if they effectively break through all the marketing noise that's in the marketplace. For Karito Kids, that meant not only creating a product with a social mission wrapped around it, but also employing cause marketing 2.0 tactics that give young customers the interactive experience they seem to crave.

Is cause marketing important your company? Tell us about it.

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