First Published 25th January, 2020
Travel brands must continue to look at how consumers are willing to participate in charity-related activities and how in turn do social good, strengthen loyalty and shore up shrinking revenue.
Andy Choi, Founder, Do Good Points interacted with Ai’s Ritesh Gupta and shared his perspective on several key issues, including:
- How to integrate donation opportunities in the earn and burn cycle of airline loyalty programs?
- How can travel brands make the most of charity-related campaigns and benefit in terms of revenue generation as well?
- How social impact, like all other effective marketing programs, is being driven by data?
Reflecting on 2020, how do you think travel brands, especially airlines, went about social impact marketing?
Andy Choi: Stating the obvious, no one expected the whirlwinds of 2020 which impacted families across the globe. Many companies that did not have a strong focus on social impact scrambled to figure out how to best serve and develop their community. Speaking as a marketer, if social impact was not already a part of their brand identity, it left little to no room to build brand equity. So naturally, a lot of companies reacted as needed but the brands that had social impact built into their DNA were already well-positioned to respond to this crisis and did so for meaningful impact.
Can you share what new or creative ways have you worked on to let people contribute to a charitable cause?
Andy Choi: One of the programs we offer through Do Good Points that is very different and unique to our platform are what we call Do Good Funds. These are social impact funds we created to help users make informed donations to a group of high-impact, cost-effective, and evidence-based organizations that are aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
How do you assess the current donation opportunities in the earn and burn cycle of airline loyalty programs?
Andy Choi: We all know the traditional burn programs that have been around, which are great and will continue to be around. What is lacking are the earn opportunities, which Do Good Points provides an excellent way for users to earn points through donations. More relevant than ever, donating is a normal consumer behavior, like buying flowers for mom on Mother’s Days. Airlines that are not offering earn opportunities are missing an opportunity to greatly serve their community and to build brand equity. The upsides are too great to ignore and that was certainly proven in 2020.
Can you cite examples where donation opportunities can be improved in the earn cycle?
Andy Choi: Special awareness days, weeks, and months are really easy and frictionless times for brands to engage their audience in a positive way to drive social impact. There is an awareness day campaign opportunity for pretty much any social impact cause you can think about.
Shark Week started off as an awareness week to counter misconceptions about sharks and conservation efforts and now has become a flagship media week for the Discovery Channel. Moreover, donors on Giving Tuesday raised 2.5 billion dollars in 2020, indicating the immense value of even a single day. Each cause that aligns with the brand’s identity, products/services, and geographical regions provides a new earn opportunity for their users. For instance, the Dove Foundation’s International Women’s Day messaging campaign aligns with their goals to empower women.
Many companies are underutilizing awareness campaigns when this could be a great opportunity in the earn cycle for their loyalty programs.
What sort of loyalty-related behavior toward charitable contributions are you looking at?
Everything. Social impact, like all other effective marketing programs, is driven by data, so everything counts. In regards to loyalty programs specifically, something we are looking for specifically are the incentives needed to drive users to take “do good” actions, including factors to drive higher donation conversion rates.
Can you talk about “Return on Giving” and how Do Good Points focuses on enhancing a running CSR program and building social impact partnerships?
Andy Choi: A portion of every donation is dedicated to the Do Good Foundation, our non-profit arm, which is used to maximize what we call ROG (Return on Giving) by investing a portion of each donation for cause awareness and engagement. This also includes investing into existing CSR programs for greater impact.
This way, every donation through Do Good Points creates a domino effect that helps bring in more Do Gooders to create a collective impact that goes past the initial donation. All the while, providing free marketing services and resources to support nonprofits for meaningful and lasting impact.
Also, our platform charges zero fees. No operating expenses like salaries are ever deducted from user donations; our platform is 100% funded by supporters who believe in our mission.
Following up on the last question – how are you looking at driving ancillary revenue and can you talk about the currency involved?
Andy Choi: We have a marketing budget specifically allocated for corporate partnerships so we can incentivize partner customers to do good. We work with our partners to design seasonal campaigns with perks for their customers. For example, if your airline company has an existing loyalty program, we can purchase airline points to utilize as an incentive for customers to donate through Do Good Points.
How do you enable loyalty programs to make an even bigger impact?
Andy Choi: There is power in community and we can make a greater impact when we work towards a collective purpose greater than ourselves. DGP helps companies expand investment in the causes that matter most to their employees, customers, and communities by providing an entire database of carefully vetted charity partners and causes. We work with and complement existing loyalty programs to design campaigns tailored to the brands’ community demographic and their interests. We also focus on measuring and reporting on long-term impact from the user level – developing aggregated data that we share with our partners. Our goal is to eliminate any barriers to doing good while driving bottom-line KPIs for our partners.
Importantly, in addition to meeting their campaign objective via social impact marketing, brands belonging to the retail industry have indicated they also tend to benefit in terms of revenue generation. This is because when a shopper helps a cause they care about, they also tend to shop more. Is same the case with travel brands?
Andy Choi: Absolutely and all the data speaks for itself. We followed market research reports during the various cycles of the pandemic, from the very beginning through the roller coaster social unrest we’ve experienced, to where we are at today; one constant has been consumer sentiment towards brands that are genuinely addressing the needs of their community. Sharing one general MR stats from 2020: over 50% of consumers reported having stronger loyalty to brands that addressed the crisis during the pandemic, including donating to support response efforts.
This was all in addition to existing social impact market trends before the pandemic hit, like 74% of consumers reporting that they believe companies needed to improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where it operates (2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, Report). Adding to this, Unilever in 2019 reported that its brands that leveraged purpose-based messaging grew 69% faster than the rest of its portfolio.
These sentiments have only magnified coming out of 2020 and continues to grow exponentially. This proves that social impact is not just a matter of responding to crisis but that it needs to be an intricate part of a brand’s holistic marketing efforts.
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