3 Cause Marketing Lessons from Rural America's Go-To Store

 Photo via Mike Mozart on Flickr

Photo via Mike Mozart on Flickr

"Lower-priced items are often a financial necessity for shoppers. At a Dollar General in Nashville, Tenn., store manager Damon Ridley said he has helped older children put together a dinner menu for their younger siblings with the few dollars they have. “I am more of an outreach manager,” he said."

Source: Wall Street Journal

There's a fascinating article in this week's Wall Street Journal on how discount retailer Dollar General is thriving in rural America. The numbers are impressive.

"Dollar General Corp.’s 14,000 stores yielded more than double the profit of Macy’s Inc. on less revenue during its most recent fiscal year. And its $22 billion market value eclipses the largest U.S. grocery chain, Kroger Co., which has five times the revenue."

Sadly, as you'll learn in the article, the reason Dollar General is thriving is because rural America is not. Still, Dollar General's business and success has a few key lessons.

Brand Matters. Despite serving struggling rural communities across the country that may benefit more from local cause marketing campaigns that drive charitable dollars back into the community, Dollar General's cause marketing partner is a stand-alone hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Yep, Dollar General has been a partner of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital since 2006. And with good reason as the St. Jude brand resonates with all consumers, whether they are urban or rural shoppers.

Brands command. If you want more cause marketing success, focus on these three things: brand, brand, brand.

Lower Income Shoppers Are Generous at the Register. I learned this first from an interview with another discount retailer, Big Lots, on an episode of CauseTalk Radio. Their stores in lower-income areas raised more with register fundraisers than their stores in more affluent communities. The same appears to be true for Dollar General stores. While their customer base earns $40,000 or less annually, Dollar General has donated $17.4 million the past decade.

Cause marketing is "red-blooded" and not "blue-blooded" fundraising. It's for everyone, and if you serve a low-income community you may have a bigger fundraising opportunity than you think.

Discount Retailers Are Great Cause Marketing Partners. Dollar General, Big Lots, TJ Maxx, Marc's (Ohio) and Ocean State Job Lots (New England) are just five discount retailers that are raising big money via cause marketing fundraisers. Unlike many department store chains, discount retailers are doing well! 

Is there a discount retailer in your area? Start with this list of 44 discount retailers.

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