PLEASANTON, Calif. — Grocery aisles have taken on a familiar shade of pink as retailers commemorate another National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
But unlike in years past where fund-raising efforts were limited to donations tied to purchases of participating products, chains have adopted new ways to get behind the cause — many of which demonstrate their year-round commitment to fighting the disease that strikes one in eight women.
Safeway, for instance, is giving away free pink “Together for a Cure” reusable cooler bags, featuring the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, to shoppers who spend $30 on participating frozen and dairy/refrigerated products.
The offer has been so popular that “it is difficult to keep them in supply,” Safeway spokeswoman Teena Massingill told SN.
The retailer has also made available reusable pink “Together for a Cure” bags, featuring the Safeway logo, for $1.99. One dollar from the purchase price will be donated to local breast cancer research and awareness efforts.
Shoppers who use these bags again and again will not only be reminded of how Safeway provided the opportunity to support a relatable cause, reuse will demonstrate to other customers Safeway's commitment to breast cancer awareness.
“Each year we try to find new ways to reach our customers with our message,” said Massingill.
Safeway's efforts are likely successful because they offer shoppers dual incentives, or a benefit beyond the knowledge that you've supported a cause, noted Alison DaSilva, executive vice president of cause marketing consultancy, Cone Research, Boston.
Multiple incentives have become necessary since so many supermarkets and CPG companies have gotten behind breast cancer awareness, she said.
“Consumers are looking for something to come back their way that can take the shape of everything from coupons to reminders to get a mammogram,” DaSilva said.
Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, rewards shoppers with both.
Last month, P&G distributed special-edition Give Hope brandSaver coupon booklets to 57 million homes. A total of 3 billion coupons good for 35 brands were circulated. Two cents will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation for each of the coupons redeemed.
“Our estimate is that the donation will be in excess of $250,000,” P&G spokeswoman Aja Silvas told SN.
The manufacturer also teamed with the NBCF to make an interactive tool available at mypinkplan.com that allows women to set up a prevention plan including reminders to do self-exams and schedule mammograms.
Since it was created 18 months ago, the site has received 300 million impressions, Silvas said.
Hy-Vee, Des Moines, Iowa, is also rewarding shoppers for giving back. This month, many of the chain's stores have hosted “Think Pink” events.
“These are usually evening receptions that feature special sales, free sampling and demonstrations, prize drawings and educational sessions, with a portion of the proceeds donated to breast cancer awareness organizations,” said spokeswoman Ruth Comer.
A one-time “Food, Fitness and Fun” event was another Hy-Vee fund-raiser. Held Oct. 10, it featured Olympic gold medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” champion Shawn Johnson, educational programs, demonstrations and dozens of exhibitors. A portion of the cost of admission ($1 out of $6) was donated to breast cancer charities.
“Several thousand people attended,” said Comer.
Another type of dual incentive gaining momentum is one that takes the shape of information that lets shoppers know exactly where their money has gone. P&G, for instance, sends a very clear message with its Pampers' “1 Pack = 1 Vaccine” Unicef campaign.
“Consumers want to know today more than ever about the impact their personal contribution has on the cause,” said DaSilva. Safeway has made strides in the area by showing shoppers that donated funds was money well-spent.
In 2007, it put $1 million donated by consumers and employees toward the purchase and two-year maintenance of a 40-foot, self-contained clinic that bears the Safeway logo and provides 20 to 30 mammograms per day to women in underserved areas.
On its off days the vehicle makes stops at Safeway stores for shopper tours.
“Units are still in operation in several divisions,” Massingill said.
The chain also demonstrates its commitment to eradicating breast cancer through its participation in BreastCancerTrials.org, which works to connect breast cancer patients with appropriate clinical trials. Funds raised by Safeway shoppers and employees helped the retailer's Safeway Foundation take BreastCancerTrials.org, nationwide.
While Safeway relies on store associates to help raise funds, Kroger, Cincinnati, takes the idea one step further and puts the faces of employees at the center of its campaign.
The retailer gives associates who've survived breast cancer a forum to share their story at sharingcourage.com.
Now in its second year, the site invites visitors to post a message on its virtual “Wall of Hope.”
Inspiring stories can also be found in-store on specially marked national- and Kroger brand packaging.
Kroger is wise to get its employees involved in this way.
“By engaging employees in cause initiatives it enhances morale, pride and lets them know the employer cares about issues that are important to them,” said DaSilva.