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The No. 1 Gift for Retailers this Holiday Season? #GivingTuesday

BY CSA STAFF

By Chase Cornett, [email protected]

The holiday shopping season is just around the corner and soon consumers will be bombarded with buying guides, floods of emails, deep discounts and, of course, that Black Friday competitive spirit. With all the chaos brought on by the holidays, retailers are finding it harder and harder to stand out. The result — strategies that focus on discounts, deliver low profit margins and drive transactions instead of engaged brand experiences.

Now, retailers have an opportunity to stand out this holiday season by joining the movement of businesses embedding social impact into their holiday marketing strategy. Studies continue to show an increase in a consumer’s brand preference for businesses that support causes they care about. Research like Edelman’s 2012 goodpurpose® study show 72% of consumers are willing to recommend a brand if it supports a good cause. This represents a 39% growth since 2008. That’s where movements like #GivingTuesday represent a perfect opportunity for retailers to join in.

#GivingTuesday is the day after Cyber Monday. In its second year, this movement creates a real opportunity for retailers to differentiate, make a positive impact in the world and grow their bottom line by extending holiday sales opportunities.

Here are three strategies to consider as you look for ways to participate:

1. Use cause marketing as marketing
Brands make major investments to tag and track consumer data, better understand consumer needs, provide relevant and timely offers and deliver brand experiences in an omni-channel ecosystem. However, for a variety of reasons, these core engagement strategies are not carried through in traditional cause marketing efforts.

As businesses plan their giving strategy it’s important to remember it’s still about the consumer, not just the cause. Delivering choice among nonprofits allows consumers to give to the cause they care about, creates strong emotional connections, and sets a foundation of shared values with the brand.

2. Holidays are a season, giving can be too
It’s easy and impactful for retailers to incorporate giving in a variety of ways across their marketing efforts. Instead of focusing on a one-time promotion, there’s an opportunity for brands to partner with philanthropy for the entire holiday season and utilize the #GivingTuesday movement as a kick-off to highlight efforts to gain social buzz and PR.

Retailers can take a look at their business priorities for the holiday season and find creative ways to add philanthropic incentives as a part of their marketing mix. Whether aiming to increase gift card sales, acquire loyalty program members, influence category purchases or drive holiday frequency — rewarding consumers with dollars to donate to their favorite nonprofit can extend the brand relationship beyond the transaction through the entire giving season.

By creating multiple ways to celebrate giving, retailers can create a philanthropic campaign that extends the giving season into long-lasting impressions with their brand’s authentic values.

3. Innovate to differentiate
It’s no secret that innovation is a major driver of brand differentiation. Creating a giving campaign this holiday season can set a retailer apart from the status quo. Cause marketing is a business strategy that’s overdue for innovation. Advancements in technology amongst cause marketing and other giving platforms provide an opportunity for brands to innovate without heavy technology investment.

Engagement is a leading indicator of long-term brand loyalty. Relevant and creative cause marketing strategies can provide the emotional fuel to translate engagement into brand loyalty. Leading brands will seize this opportunity to reach and create emotional connections with their customers, emphasize the importance of making a social impact and drive ROI.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, the No. 1 gift for retailers is the opportunity to give back. Join the #GivingTuesday movement and do something different that makes a positive financial and social impact.

Chase Cornett is director of marketing and brand at PlanG, a company pioneering a new way to create brand loyalty through philanthropy. The company helps businesses build meaningful relationships with consumers by incentivizing them with dollars to give to the charities of their choice. Chase can be reached at [email protected]


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Walmart Foundation appoints new president

BY CSA STAFF

The Walmart Foundation has appointed Kathleen McLaughlin as its president, effective Oct. 15. In addition to leading corporate giving, she will have responsibility for the company’s global sustainability, women’s economic empowerment initiatives and healthier food initiatives.

McLaughlin, previously a senior partner at global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, is a dual American-Canadian citizen and was based in Toronto.

"At Walmart we feel a responsibility to lead on some of the biggest global challenges of our time," said Mike Duke, Walmart president and CEO. "We are using the size, scale and strengths of our business to make a positive impact in these areas and the Walmart Foundation plays a major strategic role in making this model work. Kathleen has a personal passion for making a difference on social issues and the business expertise to help successfully develop and implement real, long-term solutions."

McLaughlin most recently led McKinsey’s Social Innovation Practice, where she worked with a range of businesses, NGOs and development agencies worldwide. Examples of her work in this area include developing strategy and revamping the operating models of major foundations and development organizations; enhancing sustainability of the food chain working with a global consortium of food growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers on issues such as access to market for small growers and seafood sustainability; and improving delivery of maternal and HIV/AIDS health care in Africa, working with international donors, local governments and NGOs.

McLaughlin also has deep experience in retail, having led more than 75 engagements with retail clients around the world. Specific areas of focus include international strategy, category management, operational efficiency, pricing/promotions, digital marketing, format renewal and post-merger management.

"Kathleen has been at the forefront of innovative public-private partnerships that drive development in some of the poorest parts of the world," said Dan Bartlett, EVP of Walmart corporate affairs. "She has also worked closely with grocers, department stores, drugstore chains and other retailers to improve their business strategy and overall performance. It is this rare combination of knowledge and experience that will enable her to have a unique impact on our business and on the communities we serve around the world."

McLaughlin also recently completed 10 years of service on the board of the Toronto Community Foundation, including chairing the Community Initiatives Committee that oversaw initiatives and grant-making to Toronto NGOs addressing poverty, hunger, housing and immigrant integration issues.

She, her husband, Tim Costigan, and their three children will be relocating to northwest Arkansas.

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Saks Off 5th online store is live

BY CSA STAFF

Saks Off 5th has launched its online store, saksoff5th.com. It joins a list of closeout retailers that are getting comfortable in the e-commerce market. The online store will offer up to 55% off merchandise year-round.

“This is a significant milestone for Saks Off 5th as the company rounds out our omnichannel offerings. In addition to our 70 nationwide stores, the e-commerce site is yet another platform through which we can provide our curated off-price shopping experience. We want it to be the Saks of the off price world, a true extension of the brand,” said Robert Wallstrom, president of Saks Off 5th.

“We designed the site to be a sleek, modern online reflection of the elevated design of the Off 5th stores with a strong value message. We think it will become a best in class off price fashion destination online,” said Michael Burgess, president of Saks Direct.

Along with its expanding base of stores, customers can now shop 24 hours a day and have round-the-clock assistance from the company’s customer care team. Mobile and tablet enhancements for shopping will be part of the evolution of the site interface.

Saks Off 5th online will offer the same men’s and women’s collections as in-store. Online customers will have visibility and accessibility to shop all the top designer brands that may have limited distribution and only in select stores nationwide. Additionally, the e-commerce site will offer customer’s access to Salon Z, a plus size women’s program not available in all stores.

The site is designed to reflect the experience of in-store shopping and modeled after the loft like, bright, open atmosphere of Saks Off 5th stores. Customers will have more control over their filter options, they will be able to hover over product images animated through multiple views of the item, and full-screen zoom is available for all products, among other innovative features.

Online promotions for saksoff5th.com will mirror in-store promotions with new product offerings daily. There will also be the specialized offers and exclusive merchandise for top customers to enjoy. Additionally, the site will include FashionFix events, which will migrate from Saks.com to saksoff5th.com. FashionFix is an additional space that provides exceptional deals on non-outlet premier designer products through curated flash sales.

Customers will also be able to sign up for emails to learn about current promotions, in store events and connect to social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

The Saks Off 5th More! Program will be offered on the e-commerce site. It is a free membership that gives customers access to additional savings in stores and online. Members will receive advance notice of special events, special coupons and invitations to private sales.

The retailer is also offering free shipping on all orders during a limited introductory period to mark the online store’s launch. SaksFirst members will be honored with free shipping on all orders, all the time. Other services on the site include shipment tracking, SaksFirst Card management and the opportunity to purchase and redeem gift cards.

Saks Incorporated currently operates 41 Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 70 Saks Fifth Avenue off 5th stores, and saks.com.

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