If you’re wondering what actor David Arquette is up to following his separation from actress Courtney Cox, just ask EcoMom.
EcoMom is an online retailer that targets kids and families with healthier product choices. It’s co-founder and CEO Jody Sherman, who started the company because he simply wanted to give moms easier access to eco-friendly and organic goods, is taking his efforts a whole lot further.
Built into his business model from the very beginning, the was plan to donate 1 percent of all revenue to selected charities. Now he’s decided to not just provide financial support to charities, but he’s teaming up with David Arquette to provide three meals per day to a child in-need for every transaction on www.ecomom.com.
Last time I interviewed David Arquette, when he was in the San Francisco Bay Area two years ago, all he could talk about was working at the St. Joseph’s Food Pantry in Venice, California for the past three years. The two simply met through a mutual friend who thought they would make a great team in this effort.
So, today they’re kicking off their campaign by handing out 75,000 meals to children in local missions and shelters in New York CIty, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. They hope to feed more than 100,000 kids by the end of the year.
“We’ve been writing checks to charities since we started (May, 2009) and we found there’s no feedback loop for customers, so they know their purchases actually matter,” explains Sherman.
By delivering food directly to missions and shelters themselves, his team will be able to show customers their having a direct impact on local communities. A member of the EcoMom team will be at every single food drop-off, whether it’s in New York, California, or Nevada, every single time.
Brent Freeman, CEO of Roozt, an online marketplace for cause-related brands, believes the move is brilliant. Telling customers that 1 percent of their purchases or 10 percent of their purchases go to help a child in need doesn’t have the same impact as telling them for every purchase EcoMom will deliver three meals to a child-in-need. It’s monetary versus unit impact.
“You don’t want to make people have to calculate their impact on their own,” explains Freeman. “Giving them something tangible permeates their subconscious and helps them become more engaged with your brand.”
But monetary does work for some companies such as OneHope Wines, which launched in June, 2007. It’s profitable after just five years of triple digit growth, thanks to its charitable model. The company donates half of its profits to various causes for every bottle sold. The cause depends on the varietal. It’s even combatting childhood hunger as is EcoMom. It’s preparing to offer a promotion that for every case of sparkling wine from California sold on its site, it’ll donate 100 meals towards childhood hunger in America.
“The key is that if you’re donating money, to simply make sure you break down what the real impact is,” says CEO Jake Kloberdanz. “We refer to it as the dollar-to-impact-ratio.” For example, OneHope Wines also supports the fight against breast cancer and Kloberdanz is able to tell customers exactly how many bottles it takes to pay for one mammogram.
Sherman still plans to maintain its 1 percent charitable gift to its partner charities along with its new campaign. So, I had to ask about the impact of its increased philanthropic offering on its bottom line and the company’s plan to achieve profitability in Q1 of 2013. Sherman contends the company is still on track.
He says, “Giving can be profitable.” He believes ultimately what he gives for good will be made up in the decrease in marketing spend. He could be right. The word-of-mouth potential from customers feeling great about their purchases, and viral social media pushes, as well as press coverage, which he’s getting from us, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, and probably more, could equal out.
It’s worked for TOMS, the posterchild for marrying a for-profit business with a cause. It’s the company which gives a pair of shoes to a child in-need for every pair sold. The company hasn’t needed to spend traditional marketing or advertising dollars to promote the brand. TOMS was one of the first brands to be at the forefront of the 1-for-1 retail trend. The space has since become crowded, even for TOMS, which has moved into the eyeglasses space and is directly competing against Warby Parker Eyewear.
“It doesn’t replace marketing spend for most companies nowadays,” warns Freeman. “However it does increase customer engagement and that’s really what’s key at a time when companies are trying hard to establish, and they must establish, a deeper relationship with their customers in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.”