Movement Marketing – CSR Or Promotion

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 3728 , Published on 11 June 2012
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Mahindra is running a campaign for new ideas that have social awareness. Proctor and Gamble in its latest advertisement thanked mothers of the world for their tremendous hard work in nurturing kids to world class athletes. A tea selling brand, Tata Tea asks the youth of India to use their powerful weapon – vote.

All these are multinational and successful companies having high marketing budgets and large customer base. They have established themselves and registered their products in the minds of customers. Then what has motivated them to associate themselves with a cause. Is it a mere CSR initiative by a big company or a tool to improve its image? These reasons may exist, but the main reason is promotion.

Movement Marketing

Studies have shown that for products of similar quality, consumers will consider the company’s image and reputation when choosing a brand. 79% of Americans say they would be likely to switch from one brand to another, when price and quality are about equal, if the other brand is associated with a good cause. This has motivated the companies to opt for movement marketing. Movement marketing is an initiative by a company to sell its products and services by associating itself with a social cause related campaign.

The term ‘Movement Marketing’ was created by Strawberry Frog’s founder Scott Goodson. He coined this term in his book “UpRising” where he explains how the conglomerates can benefit socially and economically when they go for movement marketing. In this book, he mentions that the companies which focus on the social issues that are prevalent in the society in which it operates, can create more emotional and relational bonding with the target group than the companies who focus mainly on the core uses of its products. Moreover, the brand can be associated with the “social reformer” tag and this helps in building the brand’s persona over a period of time.


This can be aptly applied to the Tata tea’s “Jaago Re” campaign. The entire campaign focused on the issue of the youth not utilizing their vote power and what benefits the country can reap if the entire youth of country comes together to vote for a suitable candidate. So, the most interesting thing is when does marketing turns to be a movement? The answers to this question are usually complicated, unclear and subject to interpretation. However, the major movements in the recent past can be attributed to the organization’s long sightedness and gaining a grip on the target segment of its products.

It can also be used when the core products have reached to saturated levels in the market and they need new breed of customers that have been untapped till that time. The best example for this is Pfizer’s CardioVascularDisease (CVD) movement to target the boomers who are highly prone to heart diseases because of rapid changes in the living style and advent of fast food culture. Pfizer has chosen the right brand ambassadors for this program and then silently used them to start the revolution.

It’s true that people have been starting movements for a very long time but a profound change is underway right now. It is easier than ever before for people to band together around a shared idea, goal, or passion – and they are doing so every day. The current movement mania is fuelled by many factors – and the most important one is the technology. The internet, and in particular, the rise of social media has made it easy to find and connect with like-minded souls. And at the same time, technology makes it possible for a group, once formed, to organize, plan and take action. The social factors like lack of social gatherings (similar to Tupperware parties) in the community also helped this issue where the movements became the new gathering parties.

FOR EVERY PASSION . . .

. . . THERE IS A MOVEMENT

Saving at-risk pets

ARM (Animal Resue Movement)

The pursuit of happiness

The happiness Project

Doing good deeds, easily

Pepsi Refresh Project

Being one's own boss

Free Agent Nation

Improving lives of poor kids

Tom's Shoes

And at the same time, movements often provide a means of reassurance and purpose in the world which has become increasingly unsettling, like Open Happiness movement started by Coke which can turn to be a successful and course changing movement.

                                           Movements based on the cause and target group

Movement Marketing Model

                                                         MOVEMENT MARKETING MODEL

The important prerequisite for this model is the passion of the participating people. It is passion that transforms an idea into a movement. It’s what makes people want to talk and share that particular idea. The traditional marketing claims about new and innovative offerings on the same product are not as effective as they were earlier. But, if something that can be treated in a good sense in the general terms like cleaning up the environment, donations to NGOs is attached to the product sales, they catch an eye of the prospective customer. Some of the most established companies in the world (Procter and Gamble, PepsiCo, etc.) are starting to come to terms with this change.

The challenges for these companies or for all those who want to tap into the growing power of movements is figuring out how to align themselves with existing movements or, better yet, how to spark new ones. Given that movements are fueled by human passion, they are not something to be trifled with or taken lightly. Members of a movement are hungry for meaning and authenticity, which tends to put movements at odds with superficiality and commercialism.

Moreover, marketers should know that the movements are about “insiders” and “outsiders”, and if the target group feels that the brand is trying to cozy up a movement being an outsider, it may be perceived as worst outsider, or a possible infiltrator. This is very dangerous to the existence of the brand and its authenticity itself. So, to move from an outsider to a successful insider, one needs to go through the following five phases of movement marketing.


Therefore, what is required on the part of marketers’ and business leaders’ perspective is radical rethinking of the existing marketing campaigns and how to convert them to movements. Movement marketing takes the old marketing and business ideas and flips them on their heads. For example, instead of marketing and advertising being focused on the “individual”, the new campaigns should learn to understand and relate to people in interconnected groups.

Instead of attempting to persuade people to believe an ad message, they should try to tap into what is that people already believe and care about. They should also try to relinquish the control to the movement instead of controlling themselves and more importantly, they should try to talk about the larger cause than the core products of the company.

TATA tea’s Jaago Re campaign synchronized the message of the brand with the social cause it undertook. They focused on the cause they were supporting and used every medium to popularize it. The digital marketing, advertisements on TV, radio and newspapers, social media, SMS initiative conveyed the seriousness of the campaign. This resonated in the support that the campaign received from the consumers. It spurted them to take actions against the existing evils.

Movement marketing can also be related to cause marketing. It involves association of the company with a not for profit organization for a cause. In order to start a movement, a company needs to look for a cause that is in sync with the product or service it offers. P&G offered to donate 1$ for providing vaccine to children for each pampers that was sold. This cause was related to the health of babies and small children which was similar to the users of Pampers. The movement should resonate from every medium that the brand/company uses. If it fails to convince the consumers or the decision makers that the movement is more than a promotional strategy, it will not attract buyers rather distract them.


Mahindra became the first Indian multinational company to use movement marketing. The ‘Spark the Rise’ campaign is not only a CSR activity by the company. Spark the rise provides a platform to the people to make changes to the society through their ideas and innovation. The campaign is in sync with Mahindra’s marketing strategy and the message it wants to convey to the consumer about the company. Mahindra is named as Mahindra Rise. The multinational company has a presence in many sectors.

These include aerospace, farm equipment, insurance, finance, automobiles. In order to bind them to a common mission – ‘To enable people to rise’ and to transmit this message to the masses, the movement marketing was designed around the mission. It established a website and targeted its every effort towards the social cause. The company offered funding to the ideas which were selected by the jury. The honest involvement of the company developed trust in the campaign and the company as well.

Movement marketing can be a hit for the big companies and can be a differentiating factor for them in the plethora of products available in the market. However, if it is considered only a form of marketing and the company forgets the motive behind the movement, it would not only fail to ignite the desired response, but also erode the image of the company. These strategies should be developed by careful analysis of pro’s and con’s of the campaign, and also whether the company can hold the bricks together in case of any unseen hurdles.

This article has been authored by Nikita Singla and Mahesh Kollipara from NMIMS Mumbai.

Image Source: http://www.coneinc.com/cause-marketing-alive-and-well


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