Sowing the Seeds of Social Responsibility1 Apr, 2011 By: Jackie Jones Response
Aveda’s environmentally responsible mission gains ground with the help of consumer-centric DR principles, say marketing executives Rachael Ostrom and Gigi Abbadie.
“What has made Earth Month grow so much is that we let our locations use what they’re most passionate about — whether it’s charity events focused on haircuts or fashion shows — and create their own customized fundraisers. We’ve had events that are everything from Yoga for the Earth events to ‘Yappy Hours,’ which was a cocktail party with dogs in Washington, D.C.,” Abbadie says. “Our salons and stores are so passionate about what we do and it allows them to shine throughout the whole month.”
Facebook is the key marketing tool that unites all those various local efforts into one central hub, Ostrom says.
“On Facebook throughout Earth Month, we’ll post updates, share what we’re doing and how guests can get involved and support the clean water cause. We’ll have a virtual check-in on FourSquare and Facebook where we will donate a dollar for everyone who ‘checks-in’ during the month of April,” she says. “Facebook is the most effective, central space for us, our salons and our consumers to connect and interact in.”
While Earth Month is a fundraising effort executed throughout various local markets, the limited-edition Light the Way candle campaign is Aveda’s more globalized means of outreach. For $12 each, consumers can purchase the Aveda candle with 100 percent of proceeds going to the company’s global partner, Global Greengrants Fund, which provides microgrants to support clean water projects in developing countries.
In light of the recent 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, a portion of this year’s Earth Month proceeds from candle sales will support long-term recovery and rebuilding in the area through local Global Greengrants grantees working on projects related to water quality and environmental health. Additionally, all donations made by guests at checkout on Aveda.com will support long-term recovery and rebuilding in Japan through local Greengrants grantees.
Through the Light the Way campaign in 2010, Aveda sent a team of activists to the remote Himalayan village of Tilwari in India to see the results of its fundraising efforts, which went to build water treatment, filtration and piping systems for residents to access clean water — something they’d never had direct access to before. Through Aveda’s efforts, those in Tilwari became just as engaged in the company’s mission as any DR marketer could hope for from consumers in everyday advertising efforts — even the village’s children chimed in with campaign slogans, drawings and stories of what having clean water meant to them. With the clean water project now complete, Aveda and Global Greengrants have installed a system for the villagers to access clean water right in the village and have also provided a family with access to water right in their home, a first for the village. And while Aveda activists interacted with villagers, their experiences were shared with those back in the U.S. through Facebook postings and Twitter updates, including photos and videos.
“At the end of the project, not only were we getting consumer feedback, but the community in India was extremely engaged as well. The family we provided clean water to was so happy and proud, and their status within the community was elevated — nearly 500 of the 600 village members came to a wedding at their home because they were the only house with in-home access to clean water,” Abbadie says. “To us, that really shows the power of clean water and what happens when you give back to a community, and how great it is to be able to engage our customers and fans of the Aveda brand to do the same.”
Coming Full Circle
Aveda also targets its most dedicated consumers through its loyalty program, Pure Privilege, another example of the company’s seamless blend of marketing and charity. After the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, Pure Privilege’s nearly 800,000 members gave up enough of their points to allow Aveda to donate a total of $25,000 to clean-up efforts.
“Our consumers and members are so anxious to give back that they give up points that could otherwise go to products and rewards,” says Abbadie, who adds that this year, Aveda is making a $15 contribution to Save the Children for earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan on behalf of each Pure Privilege member who redeems 1,500 reward points.
Aveda continues to use emerging digital marketing channels to further the brand’s mission.
“We continue to fund other projects through our partnerships and relationships around the world with different communities,” Abbadie says. “These initiatives and campaigns aren’t about charity — it’s an ongoing business relationship and marketing effort that betters the lives of communities that might not otherwise have these opportunities.”
It’s that spirit and emphasis on fluid communication between brand and consumer that will help Aveda expand its future philanthropic efforts even more.
“We communicate constantly and effectively through Facebook and E-mail, and it’s those types of initiatives that drive further engagement back to our success stories,” Ostrom says. “So much of what we do wouldn’t be possible without our Facebook fans and the engagement that social media affords Aveda.”
“It’s not just how we give back, it’s how our marketing initiatives and the passion of all our employees — not just from the top down, but at all levels within the organization — enable our guests and customers to be heroes themselves,” Abbadie adds. “If we’re going to be a leader in environmental responsibility, then it also comes down to how we can help others do good, not just what we do. That level of engagement and dedication at Aveda is what sets us apart.”