Beyond 'Buy One, Give One': Pairing Cause Marketing with Social Enterprise Beyond 'Buy One, Give One': Pairing Cause Marketing with Social Enterprise
Beyond 'Buy One, Give One': Pairing Cause Marketing with Social Enterprise
The Daily GOOD
Get our daily dose of information and inspiration. Sign up Now ›
As the holidays approach, many of us are asking ourselves how to give gifts that balance pleasure with purpose. But how do we use our consumer dollars most effectively to create the change we desire in the world?
The confluence of pleasure and purpose has worked to great effect raising impact capital through cause-based marketing. Over the last 10 years, a handful of consumer brands have built cause-based marketing campaigns into their core retail models. Toms, by leveraging their buy-one give-one model, has put shoes on over 2 million children. Patagonia founded 1% for the Planet, a charity that asks businesses to contribute 1 percent of their total revenue to support a broad range of environmental causes. But are these models ultimately able to create and then sustain impact on the scale of the underlying problems?
It’s important to distinguish between cause-based marketing and social enterprise. While each can make meaningful contributions to improving the lives of others, the difference is this: where a cause-based marketing campaign will only make donations, a social enterprise will cultivate and apply its full breadth of technical and market expertise towards solving social problems. The social enterprise model forces companies into an existential search for life-enhancing solutions that end users both want and will pay for, thereby aligning the financial success of the company with the achievement of its social objectives.
At BioLite, we’re pioneering a model that pairs the long-term potential of social enterprise with near-term scaling capital provided by cause marketing.
Across the world, 3 billion people still cook on smoky open wood fires, leading to nearly 2 million premature deaths each year. That’s twice as many people as die from malaria. It’s hard to envision enough philanthropic resources to sustainably address a problem of this scale. If Toms gave a clean stove for each pair of shoes they sold, they would still have addressed less than 0.1 percent of the need. This observation drives us to the conclusion that only a market-based solution will have the ability to achieve impact on the scale of the underlying problem.
To address the problem of indoor smoke, our team at BioLite created the HomeStove, a low-cost, wood-burning stove. By generating electricity from the heat of the fire, the HomeStove is able to power a fan that reduces smoke by 90 percent while providing users with economically valuable electricity to charge mobile phones and LED lights. We believe that the combination of consumer desired electricity access with the health benefits of reduced emissions has the potential to revolutionize the purchase and adoption of clean cookstoves.
While our stoves will dramatically reduce the impact of indoor wood fires, we also recognize that large-scale development problems are difficult to solve and require considerable time, expertise, and capital investment. To address this, we follow a model of parallel innovation. We take the same technology developed for emerging markets and redesign it for the United States and European recreation and emergency preparedness markets as the BioLite CampStove.
This parallel approach has two distinct benefits. First, by incubating a single technology for multiple markets, we ensure that all of our research and development investments and capabilities directly contribute to our impact potential. By contrast, only a fraction of Patagonia’s financial resource and technical capability is applied to improving the environmental concerns that are central to the brand’s identity. Second, BioLite leverages the near-term revenue from well-developed markets to incubate our emerging markets to self-sustained scale.
As consumers, we ultimately make our selection on the merit of the product we’re buying. But as you consider the impact potential of your purchases, you can either support a company that gives away a share of its profits to good causes, or invest in a company that brings to bear all of its resources to create scalable social change.
Images (cc) BioLite
— Like us on Facebook to get more GOOD —
Honoring the Dead By Feeding Them The sweet (and savory) hereafter of Día de los Muertos Understanding the food-filled altars of Día de los Muertos
Drawing a Bead on a Better World The Purple Buddha Project attempts to forge beauty out of ugly histories that continue to alter life in the present.
The Message-Maker: On the Ground with Baltimore Street Artist GAIA Internationally acclaimed artist uses painting to reach his city.
Buckets are the New Pumpkins Do you annually waste nourishing squash flesh on bourgeois porch displays? Jettison the traditional jack-o’-lantern with this one simple trick
Watch Out for the Witch Flick A guide to the positive, negative, and complicated depictions of women as witches in movies, warts and all
The Not-So-Mad Science of Head Transplants We may soon be able to successfully graft a human head onto a different body, but is it worth the cost in terms of dollars and ethics?
A Friendly Game of International Border Subversion Activists in Morocco and Algeria hope to play a volleyball game using the countries’ mutual border as a net
13 Spooky Sites That Redefine the Term Skeleton Structure Humans have been using bones as building materials for centuries While world religions and ancient history are replete with alternative burial solutions, some of the most mesmerizing are found in ossuaries
Teacher’s Little Reading Helper Know any child iPad addicts who should be learning how to read instead of playing Candy Crush? Try Bam Boomerang
How Elves and Serpents are Saving Iceland for Future Generations Most Iceland residents believe in magic to some degree, and it’s helping to preserve the environment, foster community … and rake in tourism dollars
5 Tales of Halloween Heartbreak A conversation about growing up in the U.S. without celebrating national dress-up-and-get-free-candy day