Marketing With A Cause

June 8, 2017

As the vending marketplace gets exceedingly competitive, operators are constantly faced with the challenge of how to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. With a long list of tactics ranging from increased advertising spend to innovative incentives and promotions, one strategy becoming increasingly popular is cause marketing. With social responsibility rising higher on consumers' priority lists, especially Millennials, marketing a specific cause can mean big returns. According to a recent College Explorer study from Alloy Media, almost 95 percent of college students reported that they are less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a brand's partnership with a cause. 

Here are a few examples of how cause marketing relates to our industry: 

Quenching Thirst Around The World 

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3.4 million people die every year as a direct result of unclean drinking water. Neverthirst aims to significantly slash these types of statistics by providing access to clean water. Last year, Royal Cup, Inc.'s Office Beverage Division partnered with NeverThirst to fund freshwater projects in South Sudan, Sudan, India, Cambodia and Nepal. For every serving of Roar coffee consumed in the OCS space, two cents is donated to NeverThirst. The funds are then used to complete projects around the world. To promote and spread excitement about the cause, Royal Cup communicates the impact of the partnership on the digital screens of its customers who use Roar. According to Howard Chapman, president of Royal Cup, Inc,'s Office Beverage Division, the first year impact was "well into the six figures." 

Fair Trade Inspires Younger Consumers 

According to joint research between the National Marketing Institute and Fair Trade USA, nearly 40 percent of the general population looks for proof of social claims when purchasing products. In particular, Millennials are especially motivated by causes, with 70 percent more likely to buy products from companies that support their favorite causes. An impressive 65 percent of Millennials also recognize the Fair Trade Certified label compared to 59 percent of the general consumer population recognizing the label, suggesting that these types of products are quite favorable to younger consumers.  

Attracting New Customers 

I recently witnessed the power of purchasing for a cause in my own everyday life. Shortly after my husband started a job with the State of Illinois, I was packing his lunch one evening for the following day. Just as I was about to prepare his usual side of pretzels, he told me to hold off and explained he was planning on purchasing a snack at work instead. Confused (as I have routinely packed his lunch for years), I asked him why he was planning on buying a similar snack at his office. He explained the state's blind vending program at his office and smiled as he spoke a bit about the vendor he already befriended. I was impressed and encouraged him to support the organization. While my husband never frequented a vending machine prior to his current position with the state government, this has now become a part of his daily routine. He was not changing his spending habits for the latest and greatest snack or moved by a fancy advertising campaign, instead he was inspired by a cause and committed himself to routinely contributing to it.