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Supervalu’s Cause Marketing Is Good For Its Brand


Cause marketing has proliferated online and retail marketing – on all levels and channels. It seems to be increasingly common to find products that have a pink ribbon or other icon on their labels in grocery stores today.

The idea behind cause marketing, of course, is to connect with consumers on an emotional, non-commercial level. Which is kind of crap – because commerce is behind why the product exists in the first place.

So the question every business leader should be asking (and not asking the marketing department) is cause marketing good for my brand or business. Does it generate more sales now and in the future? If you’re confident in saying yes – then go for it. If not, don’t use cause marketing as a crutch for real, honest-to-goodness marketing.

Cause marketing can work well if it’s novel, supports the needs and values of your target audience (customers) and generates revenue and customers for the future.

One terrific example is provided by the grocer Supervalu. Select supermarkets in the Supervalu Inc. family of retailers have been partnering with the Iams Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption program to host nationwide in-store meet-and-greet pet adoption events to help match millions of pets with potential owners.

This is smart on multiple levels.

  • Everyone knows animal people are nuts about their pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, people in the U.S. will spend more than $50 billion on their animals this year, a record. Spending in the pet economy has increased every year since 2001 and only once by less than 5 percent annually in that time.
  • Pet owners are real advocates for rescue and adoption.
  • Pet food is the single largest pet ownership expense ($19.5 billion) – so it stands to reason Iams will benefit from anything that fosters more pets into people’s homes.
  • Pet owners are a large audience of consumers. According to the Humane Society there were 78.2 dogs living in 39 percent of U.S. households in 2011. 86 million cats live in 33 percent of U.S. households. And that’s just dogs and cats.

Supervalu and Iams have hit the cause marketing nail on the head. Marketing around this cause will benefit both brands and a lot of dogs and cats.

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