n my cause marketing presentations over the past year I’ve talked a lot about how the future of cause marketing will thankfully not be just cause products and in-store pinup programs. Thanks to technology, especially mobile technology, cause marketing will happen wherever people are and wherever they care.
The granola bar company Nature Valley recently gave us a wonderful glimpse of what this future will look like with its new Nature Valley Trail View. Expanding on a long term commitment to this country’s national parks, Nature Valley is doing for hiking trails what Google Street View has done for roads: allow people to follow and zoom in on 58 trails in three famous parks with a 360 degree view.
This is only the first stage of the project as Nature Valley plans to visually map other trails. The work isn’t cheap. This first stage cost $1 million.
There are several interesting things about this campaign from a cause marketing perspective.
THE INTERSECTION OF CAUSE, CARING AND LOCATION
As a member of the marketing team at Nature Valley told the Times, “Supporting lifestyle causes that your customers care about is what’s going to keep them loyal to you, and when they have a choice, maybe they’ll choose you.” This is the future of cause marketing, moving beyond kitschy pinups and pink-ribbon toasters to deeper connections that drive brand loyalty. Technology is accelerating the evolution of cause marketing and making it omnipresent – and thanks to smartphones and tablets – portable.
THE COMPANY TAKES A BACKSEAT
Nature Valley made a point not to splash it’s name over every facet of the program. They’re leading with their support for the parks and the value of Trail View to the outdoor enthusiast. The cause and the because take center stage.
EVERY BRAND IS A CONTENT CREATOR
Nature Valley is investing in creating online content for the things they and their customers care for. It’s a direction we’ll see a lot of companies taking in the years ahead as brands look beyond just adding value and instead focus on being valuable. Starbucks, American Red Cross, Target, Feeding America, Google and others will develop a rich layer of online content to reflect their shared values with stakeholders.
Smaller businesses and causes will respond with their own strategies to deepen their connection with causes and customers. Their results won’t be as sophisticated as Nature Valley’s, but they will blaze their own trail. Whether you are a large or small business or cause, consumers will expect you to be where they are, to care where they care. Will you be there to meet them?