Encouraging Kindness, Acquiring Loyalty
Watch some election coverage and you might be fooled, but in fact, we’re all moving in a kinder, gentler direction. And marketers should take heed.
More than ever, consumers are expressing a desire to be a part of a kinder society. According to the Cassandra Report, a full 82 percent of youth today feel “a personal responsibility to promote kindness and positivity in the world.” So it’s no surprise that this internalized responsibility translates into their buying behaviors.
But for all the brands that do well by doing good, kindness in marketing is about more than just that. Indeed, you can reap the benefits of authentic kindness without a total business model overhaul.
How? You can espouse kindness and encourage kindness. Across industries and around the world, brands are doing it — and reaping the resultant brand loyalty — every day.
Indian healthcare company OMRON, for example, invited consumers to join them in helping blind people lead their fullest lives. In the Your Voice, Their World campaign, OMRON asked consumers to record audio of a poem for a national database for the blind. The result: People recorded 4,300 poems in the program’s first run, and Omron’s brand category score increased 35 percent.
Electric Ireland created a Powering Kindness campaign, which encouraged people to do good deeds and record them online; the utility company then re-payed the good deeds with charitable donations. In a category not typically associated with warm feelings, Electric Ireland benefited from the glow of helping consumers do good. And it successfully realized a bump in brand affinity scores.
Such a bump is no surprise, given that four out of five consumers report feeling better about buying a brand if they know it promotes kindness.
To that end, retailer Gap teamed up with Bombas to create the Good Deed Machine in a New York store window. The machine encouraged passers-by to carry out a variety of consumer-generated suggestions for acts of kindness, and more than 10,000 people interacted with it in just two weeks.
Quick service restaurant Pret a Manger introduced special coffee-cup sleeves, encouraging customers to give them to a strangers who can then redeem them for free drinks. Empowering customers to do a kind deed was a natural brand extension for Pret, which was already famous for encouraging its staff to offer occasional free drinks.
And that authenticity is essential.
For generations, Coca-Cola has rooted its brand in kindness, achieving positive brand associations through campaigns like Let’s Go Crazy (and do good for others) and the Happiness Machine, among many others. While these campaigns take distinct creative forms, they combine to demonstrate that kindness is an enduring value of the Coke brand.
As your brand explores encouraging kindness, remember that it can’t be a one-off marketing campaign. (Consumers can sniff out a fake quickly.) It might be just one element of your brand communications strategy, but it has to be an enduring one. It has to be central to your brand ethos.