Use Charity to Attract Shoppers||
to fill the aisles with shoppers, some stores are trying creative marketing tactics,
including appealing to people's charitable side, to boost sales.
few exceptions, stores are reporting sluggish sales this holiday season, an important
period for merchants who count on doing brisk business between November and December.
entice more Americans to dip into their wallets, some stores are trying marketing
campaigns that make people feel good about shopping.
The Gap is offering
$20 teddy bears, the proceeds of which will go toward giving 70,000 coats to poor
boys and girls. New York City home furnishing store ABC Carpet & Home is selling
real water buffaloes -- $135 buys one, delivered to a small village in Cambodia.
announced this week that it would match up to $1 million in donations given to
Salvation Army red kettles outside its stores.
That move came after
its competitor, Target, banned the Santa bell ringers, saying it was not fair
to select certain charities and not others for the coveted entrance locations.
"Retail-hosted charitable events and promotions have at least tripled
since 2000," Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail
consulting group, told The New York Times.
gentler marketing campaigns|
say this holiday season is seeing a different kind of marketing: kinder, gentler
campaigns that appeal to people's feeling that they should be doing more to help
the less fortunate.
Even the mottoes are different this season. Last year,
the Gap's holiday motto was "Get It. Give It." This year, it is "Share
Nike and other stores, you can buy $1 Lance Armstrong Live Strong bracelets to
finance cancer research. So far, the Lance Armstrong Foundation has sold $28 million
of the $1 bracelets.
To many, buying a $1 bracelet is both for charity and
to be cool.
"My uncle died of cancer, and I support it because of that,"
said Emma Katherine Willis, 11, from Providence, R.I. "But everyone in my
school has one, too, and I wanted one."
Merchants interviewed by Times
reporters speculated that after a contentious presidential election or the war
continuing in Iraq, people wanted to reach out in some way. But analysts say retailers
were forced to get creative.
As Americans become more comfortable buying
presents online, stores are facing stiff competition from the Internet. Online
sales were up 21 percent over the comparable period last year, according to the
company VeriSign, which processes over a third of online credit card sales.
the merchants woke up in the 21st century to realize the old tools -- the advertising
or sales promotions, the tools they taught in business school -- don't work anymore,"
explained Paco Underhill, a retailing consultant and the author of "Why We
"The stores are hoping to wrap themselves in a mantle that
distinguishes themselves. Just as Whole Foods has wrapped itself in the mantle
of organic, chemical-free food, this season's retailers are trying to identify
themselves with charity," he told the Times.
Merchants try to set a tone|
merchants say they are simply responding to a need.
climate seems ready; people are looking for leadership and direction post-9/11.
I really do believe there is a strong progressive movement building and that I
am helping to bring it to the mainstream. Merchants can set a tone," said
Paulette Cole, chief executive at ABC Carpet.
In addition to the water
buffalo, shoppers can buy an eye operation for a child in Asia or Africa ($100);
a Kid for a Kid, a milk goat to a Haitian family ($100, or $40 for a one-third
share); and one year of shelter, food and training for a 12-year-old Masai girl
who refuses to submit to female genital mutilation ($1,000).
Buying a charitable
gift at a store "can take away the emptiness of these consumer dollars just
sailing off into the atmosphere," Cole told the Times.
It's too early
to see if doing good will help merchants weather the competition from the Internet,
or the lack of consumer confidence stemming from an uncertain economic outlook,
but store owners say that every little bit helps.
by Leah Clapman, Online NewsHour