Cause Marketing in the 'Hood: Starbucks, Whole Foods

conservation international starbucks

In my travels this past weekend, I came across two cause marketing programs at two stores my family frequents a lot. The first was at Starbucks where I saw a display for the new Conservation International Starbucks Card. You load the card with dough and every time you spill the beans at Starbucks through the end of the year five cents goes to CI. I like the program, and as a Starbucks customer I admire the coffee behemoth for supporting CI's mission to protect the earth.

One program I missed in Starbucks stores this month, however, was their annual Leprechaun Latte promotion to support Boston-based Jumpstart. This was a simple cause marketing program that rewarded Jumpstart with 25 cents for every green latte sold. I reported in 2006 that the program raised $13,000.

This program was a great example of a giant company doing local cause marketing (Leprechaun Lattes were unique to New England). As a local cause marketer it gave me hope that maybe my little nonprofit could one day work with Starbucks. Now, it looks as if I may need to look for my pot of gold elsewhere.

My second stop this weekend was at Whole Foods, a grocer I've written glowingly on for their passive cause marketing programs. On this trip, however, I was pleasantly accosted by a passionate young cashier named Amanda. She asked me to support the Whole Planet Foundation, a nonprofit started by Whole Foods to help fuel economic development in poor countries, mainly through microfinancing. You could donate a $1 or $5, but if you chose the latter, Whole Foods included a chocolate bar to sweeten the deal!

I really appreciated Amanda's enthusiasm, and she shared how Whole Foods had raised $2 million to help victims from the Haiti earthquake.

Like in the passive cause marketing program I reviewed earlier this year, the signage for this program was right near the credit card machine where everyone could see it. "Empower women through micro-credit" was the call to action for this sophisticated, educated shopper. But, as in every other program I've ever run, the person at the register makes all the difference.

I wish Whole Foods would encourage more of their cashiers to "make the ask."

I wish every store had more cashiers like Amanda!