A great incentive doesn’t have to include cash or prizes. Sometimes, the best way to build trust and loyalty with your audience is to give back to the causes they care about. Social good programs can help your brand build lasting customer relationships that will carry your business through tough times. Here are 10 examples of brands that are nailing the use of social good to drive engagement as a response to COVID-19.

As the pandemic quickly rose to international news, shutting doors, closing businesses, and ushering people inside, business owners everywhere were left wondering what’s next. 

For those with a heavy focus on brick-and-mortar sales, the current crisis has been particularly crippling. The shape of consumer behaviour has changed, accelerating the shift from brick-and-mortar to ecommerce and re-centering business activities around the consumer. 

In order to survive this shift and set the stage for a prosperous kickoff once physical locations are opened again, businesses need to double-down on their loyalty-building efforts—and loyalty incentives that are good for not only the customer, but also the customer’s community, are one of the most powerful and positive approaches to driving trust, word-of-mouth marketing, and cash flow during uncertain economic periods. 

WHY IT WORKS: 

  • Social good programs appeal to consumers’ personal values and empower them to shop from brands that support the causes they care about. 
  • Social good programs demonstrate a genuine commitment to making the world a better place, effectively boosting the emotional connection between your brand and your customers; the choice to shop from you is not only the choice to own a cool new gadget or accessory, but also a small individual action that can accumulate into a positive impact on the world. 
  • Social good programs tend to do well with organic social and word-of-mouth marketing. By associating your brand with a purpose and a social impact, the message is more likely to resonate. 
  • Social good programs can help you strengthen your brand story and values; if your brand is known for selling sustainable products, for example, then a social good program benefitting environmental preservation efforts will surely sit well with your customers. 

Here are 10 examples of brands that pivoted quickly and released stellar social good programs as a response to COVID-19. 

10 stellar social good programs as loyalty incentives during COVID-19

1. Igloo donates 100% of profits from cooler sales to CDC Foundation.

Igloo, a Lexer client, is the manufacturer of the iconic American Playmate cooler. As the brand’s most popular product, the cooler has above-average volume of first-time purchases, and the customers who purchase this product first typically go on to have high average lifetime values. We often describe products like this as “hero” products, and they make great candidates for high-performance customer acquisition campaigns. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Igloo decided to donate 100% of profits from cooler sales to the coronavirus response fund at the CDC Foundation. This social good campaign empowers the brand and its customers to support a hyper-relevant cause—finding a cure—and it converts new customers with a hero product that has historically led to long-term customer engagement and satisfaction. 

2. WILDFANG donates to Dress for Success with each purchase.

In its early response to the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s apparel brand WILDFANG offered to donate a piece of suiting to nonprofit organisation Dress For Success with every purchase. 

Dress For Success is dedicated to helping women achieve economic independence by providing support and professional attire. Because the organisation is dedicated to women’s empowerment, it fits in nicely with the WILDFANG brand, which has always revolved around feminism and women’s rights. This campaign is also timely and relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic because the crisis has caused an increase in layoffs and unemployment. 

3. Burberry converts a trench coat factory to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients, funds vaccine research, and donates to charities.

Burberry, a British luxury fashion brand, understands that pushing for sales at a time like this can seem insensitive and dismissive of the current suffering caused by the pandemic. Instead of attaching its social good programs to specific sales, Burberry is:

  • Using its global supply chain network to fast-track the delivery of surgical masks to the UK National Health Service
  • Repurposing a trench coat factory to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients
  • Funding research into a single-dose vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, and
  • Donating to charities that are dedicated to tackling food poverty across the UK. 

Although many brands may not have the resources to orchestrate a social good program as aggressive as Burberry’s, the sentiment still stands: Do what you can to help. In doing so, brands like Burberry can solidify their current customer relationships and demonstrate a commitment to the greater good. 

4. Nicole Miller donates 10% of sales to Global Giving.

Nicole Miller is a global womenswear and lifestyle brand based in New York City. The brand is donating 10% of sales to Global Giving to support community relief efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Nicole Miller is donating 20,000 surgical masks and N-95 masks to healthcare professionals in NYC and Philadelphia, and it released a DIY face mask tutorial for customers who couldn’t afford or access their own. 

By announcing this social good campaign with a 25% sitewide discount and the tagline, “Help Us Help Others,” Nicole Miller is empowering its customers to contribute to a focused effort for the greater good. Customers who do choose to convert, for the first time or otherwise, will feel a deeper sense of connection with the brand knowing that they played a part to help the world recover from this crisis. 

5. Corkcicle is supporting small businesses by allowing customers to choose a local store and donate with each sale.

Corkcicle makes and sells insulated drinkware, barware, lunchboxes, and coolers. This brand has taken a unique approach to social good with its #supportlocal campaign. 

Because Corkcicle products are sold in many small, local retail businesses—most of which have closed their doors as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus—Corkcicle decided to take action to supplement revenue for these businesses while they’re closed. Any customers who buy from the Corkcicle website can choose the local Corkcicle retailer they want to support, and that business will be credited for the purchase as if it were bought directly in-store. 

We love this smart strategy. By purchasing from Corkcicle during its #supportlocal campaign, customers are supporting not only the Corkcicle brand but also the businesses in their communities. They can access product lines and skins that may not be available directly in the stores nearby and still have the same positive impact on the local businesses they love.  

6. L’Oreal produces hand sanitiser and donates to organisations helping the disadvantaged.

The hand sanitiser shortage has affected both essential and non-essential workers around the world. In response, global beauty brand L’Oreal has begun to convert its manufacturing facilities to produce and distribute hand sanitiser throughout Europe. Additionally, the brand plans to donate one million euros to the organisations working to support disadvantaged populations throughout the crisis, as well as put a hold on any debts owed to them by small or mid-sized companies. 

These sweeping efforts to provide support, resources, and care during the crisis will go a long way toward solidifying consumer trust in and loyalty to the L’Oreal brand. By putting a hold on debts and creating custom payment plans for the small businesses it’s associated with, the brand is strengthening its current business relationships as well. 

7. Allbirds runs a “buy-a-pair, give-a-pair” program for healthcare professionals.

Allbirds is a premium natural shoes and socks retailer. As a way to say thank you to the healthcare community for being on the frontlines fighting COVID-19, the brand offered to donate a pair of Wool Runners to any healthcare worker who reached out. 

The initial response was so great that Allbirds donated more than $500,000 worth of shoes in less than a week. At the same time, the brand quickly realised that it would be unable to fulfil all of the requests that were coming in while still providing full pay and benefits to its employees. Inspired by the overwhelming response from its social community, Allbirds added a buy-one-give-one option so that its non-healthcare customers and prospects could help them offset the cost of continuing the donation program. 

Allbird’s donation program is an exemplary social good incentive because it’s genuine, thoughtful, and sustained with support from its prospects and customers. By being honest about Allbird’s inability to keep up with the requests from healthcare workers while still balancing the needs of its employees, new and existing customers rushed to make a purchase and help out. 

8. Burton is donating half a million KN95 facemasks and manufacturing face shields.

Snowboard gear brand Burton is known for its philanthropy and commitment to making a positive social impact, so it’s only natural that it would pull out all stops in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The brand has decided to:

  • Donate 500k KN95 masks to hospitals near its headquarters
  • Convert one of its snowboarding manufacturing facilities to produce protective face shields
  • Donate 1,300 Anon Optics goggles to Goggles for Docs
  • Launch a grassroots employee mask-making effort, and 
  • Open up its Performer Program, which gives participants a 50% discount off all Burton products, to the healthcare industry

Additionally, Burton is encouraging its customers to sew and donate handmade facemasks, donate their new or used goggles, check in on their neighbours, and stay home. By emphasising the power and impact of collective action, Burton is strengthening its existing community and welcoming newcomers to it as well.

9. Apostrophe is producing hand sanitiser and donating 100% of profits to the WHO.

In response to the hand sanitiser shortage, skin care brand Apostrophe has shifted all available capacity at its compounding pharmacy to produce the hand sanitiser formula recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The hand sanitiser is available for sale on the website, and the brand is donating 100% of profits to the WHO COVID-19 response fund. 

Apostrophe is not only meeting a critical need of many of its customers and prospects, but also helping to fund the WHO’s efforts to provide medical equipment to health workers, educate communities, and fast-track the development of a vaccine or treatment.

10. Tieks is encouraging customers to band together in its #sewTOGETHER campaign.

Tieks Boutiek produces Italian leather and vegan ballet flats. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated shortage of medical gear, Tieks has been donating medical-grade face masks and stitching and distributing lower-grade masks to hospitals in the Los Angeles area—and in a campaign called #sewTOGETHER, the brand has enlisted its customers and prospects for help, too. 

Having already made a name for itself as a socially responsible brand with its philanthropic Gavrieli Foundation, Tieks is in a great position to harness the power of collective action to make a positive impact. The brand is encouraging customers to make and donate masks by providing DIY instructions and offering up to $100 in a gift card toward its products. This campaign is a powerful and genuinely impactful way to strengthen customer relationships and offer incentives for continued customer support in the future. 

From altruism to acquisition to loyalty

Customer loyalty can make or break a business, especially during hard times like these—and the only way to build a genuinely loyal customer base is by genuinely engaging your customers with the experiences they deserve. Those experiences might include a discount or a free gift with purchase, sure, but why not take it a step further and engage your customers with a more human endeavour: Making the world a better place. 

Authentic brand activism has always been a powerful way to create a loyal community connected by your business’s mission, purpose, and products. Today, however, social good is more important than ever, and these 10 brands are setting an example for the rest of the market. Consumers respect and reward programs like these, and it shows. 

For more retail-focused resources to help you operate your business during the crisis, check out our curated list of tips, best practices, playbooks, and examples here: “Defending Coronavirus Disruptions: Resources for Retailers.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing sweeping changes to the retail industry. Lexer’s team of retail experts would love to help you manage these changes in any way we can. Use the meeting link below to schedule a chat with a member of our team. 


Contributors

Author profile
Marketing Copywriter at Lexer

Elizabeth Burnam is a content marketer and a poet at heart. She has a degree in Professional Writing and experience developing high-impact marketing assets for a broad range of industries.

Outside of work, she enjoys reading, painting, people-watching, and exploring the natural wonders of Vermont.