Where Are The Back-To-School Cause Promotions?

Like most parents, I am hitting the stores to buy new sneakers and clothes that fit my growing children and the needed school supplies to fill their backpacks. While on my journeys I have been surprised and disappointed by the lack of visible back-to-school cause promotions. In years past, Office Depot and Staples had almost identical cause promotions to gain competitive advantage while raising money for local schools. JCPenney, Target and other retailers strongly marketed their long-standing commitments to education during this time of intense shopping. Such efforts were a key factor in where I shopped.

There are a few programs out there right now (see below), but I really had to search for them proactively as companies are not investing in marketing their cause efforts. This is another sad acknowledgement of our depressed economy, as companies are responding to the cash- and credit constrained shopper with price cut messages. While I am not going to reiterate the findings of research (ours and others), I wish companies would remember that loyal consumer relationships are built on more than price alone. When product, price and quality is comparable, there are still many consumers who want a reason to shop at Store A versus B. Also, if you’ll notice below, there are ways to structure cause promotions that encourage repeat purchases and future savings, i.e.: gift cards, coupons, sweepstakes. It’s a dual benefit that consumers won’t pass up!

Here are the promotions that I noticed; if you see any others, please post!!!

  • Clorox Healthy Classroom Heroes: Consumers can nominate teachers who have created a clean and tidy learning environment and inspired their students to adopt healthy habits. Clorox will give the teacher, school and parent a combined $30,000 of cash/products.
  • Staples “Do Something 101”: Staples is partnering with the nonprofit DoSomething.org and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks to develop Do Something 101, a national Back to School program in which teens will be encouraged to collect school supplies to support underserved children and drop them off at their local Staples store. Staples is also donating proceeds from the sale of its Easy Button, up to $1 million each year, to Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
  • Levi’s and JCPenney:  Both companies have teamed up and pledged $100,000 for VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, which supports music programs in public schools by donating musical instruments. From July 27 through Aug. 2, Levi’s donated $5 from each customer who bought two pairs of Levi’s jeans at participating JCPenney stores or online. In return, customers received a $10 JCPenney gift card.


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