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[B-SIDE Podcast] Bang for your buck: how businesses can change the world a dollar at a time

Follow us on Spotify BusinessWorld B-Side

Jeremy Meltzer, founder of cause marketing platform i=Change, explains how brands and consumers can make a difference, a dollar a time.

“Cause marketing” is a term coined in 1983 by American Express to describe its campaign to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. American Express donated one cent toward restoring the statue every time someone used its charge card. As a result, the Restoration Fund raised over $1.7 million.

Businesses on i=Change give back a dollar to a specific cause with every sale they make. “Customers understand what a dollar is,” Mr. Meltzer told BusinessWorld reporter Patricia B. Mirasol. “It’s more understandable than ‘we give back 1% of our profit to charity.’”

He added: “Don’t think about how clever you can be. Think about how authentic you can impart your message to your customers.”


Cause marketing differs from corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility is an umbrella phrase for how corporations behave and choose policies, guidelines, purchasing practices, and waste management. Mr. Meltzer described it as a broad term that looks at the way businesses are responsible for a whole series of indexes. 

“Businesses realize they operate as part of a broader community,” he said. “To be successful, businesses realize they need a social license to operate. A business can’t thrive in a community that doesn’t. Cause marketing, on the other hand, is more specifically geared around how brands are giving back to causes hoping to achieve a marketing result.”

Authenticity, transparency, and simplicity get your message across.

“Cause marketing hasn’t been done properly in the past,” Mr. Meltzer said. “We set out to reimagine it as an experience for the customer and a solution for the retailer, to make it simple for them to give back and simple for them to integrate [giving back] in the customer experience.”

He adds that authenticity is crucial in cause marketing. Brands need to be transparent and support causes that are aligned with their core values, else customers will see through the false ploy. 

“Don’t think about how clever you can be. Think about how authentic you can impart your message to your customers,” he told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Meltzer cited the US brand Reformation as a company that knows how to do cause marketing: “Similar to Patagonia, that brand has become synonymous with  transparency, synonymous with impact, synonymous with being a steward of the community and of the environment.”

It’s easier to understand a dollar than ‘1% of profit.’

Most of the businesses on i=Change give back a dollar to a specific cause with every sale they make. “Customers understand what a dollar is,” Mr. Meltzer explained. “It’s more understandable than ‘We give back 1% of our profit to charity.’” 

Mr. Meltzer said that being a force for change makes a business relevant, and that both product and purpose have to be part of the new normal. He hopes that more businesses become stewards of the community and the environment and that they would consciously choose to integrate these values with the way they do things.

“We cannot continue living in a world where profit is the lens in which we measure success. We are all intricately connected to our communities, to our environment, and to the broader world,” he said. “It’s only a lack of vision and imagination and consciousness that prevents us from understanding the importance of that.”

Follow us on Spotify BusinessWorld B-Side

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