Target Goes Beyond Bottom Line With Red Cross Partnership: DMAW Show

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WASHINGTON -- Cause-related marketing partnerships continue to rise, as shown by the American Red Cross and Target stores at the "Together We Prepare" session at the Direct Marketing Association of Washington's annual Bridge Conference in Washington, DC.

Already in 2006 $1.36 billion has been spent by corporate sponsorships on nonprofit organizations, a 20 percent increase from 2005.

"It is not about meeting the bottom line anymore for corporations," said Shelly Espinosa, manager of community relations for Target, Minneapolis. "You need to be doing well and doing good."

The organizations each cited quality, mission-related strategies, brand reputations and reaching a new market as key criteria in making the partnership.

Target stores give more than $2 million per week to local and nonprofit organizations, and team members volunteer more than 345,000 hours per week in 7,000 different communities.

"We want to bring more to the table than just that check," Ms. Espinosa said.

The core customers at Target are women ages of 35 to 45 with children.

The partnership between the American Red Cross and Target was forged to work through disaster relief, act as a safety mobile and serve as a model for cause marketing.

The two entities came together in September 2004 to produce the First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Starter Kit. With a deadline of September 2005 to be available for the kit's purchase, Target sponsored surveys that were used in the overall media outreach.

Research showed that consumers wanted the kit to be affordable and conveniently located at a place they were already shopping at since consumers would buy it on impulse.

The kit costs $29.99 at Target stores and www.target.com and contains first aid and emergency necessities for a family of four, such as a battery-fueled radio, blankets and scissors. The kit doesn't contain food or water to keep prices down.

"Although the kits do not have food and water in them, customers can still purchase those items easily in the same Target store," Ms. Espinosa said.

Thus far, 65,000 kits have been sold nationwide, with 40,000 purchased in the eight weeks following Hurricane Katrina. The partnership spent more than $117 million in media impressions, along with $10 of each kit going directly to the Red Cross.

The Target-designed products will begin to hit shelves once again this September. Also, the cause marketing partnership between Target and the American Red Cross has been renewed for another year.

"Communication was key," Ms Espinosa told the attendees of her experience. "We wanted to make sure that all our networks were aware."

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