Retailers are building trust and customer loyalty by donating to charities and promoting their dedication to specific social causes. Following a successful campaign in 2011 — which raised $500,000 — Chico’s FAS has rolled out a new initiative to offer funding to Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals nationwide. By partnering with ePrize, a digital engagement and multichannel marketing solution provider, the fashion retailer is encouraging customers to take action with a new social sharing strategy.
Chico’s “Send a Smile” campaign was designed to raise additional funds for CMN hospitals across multiple digital channels. Users create virtual cards for child patients across a variety of platforms, including a Facebook-branded app, dedicated web site and a mobile optimized site. Once cards are created, consumers can share them with friends and family across email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to boost awareness and participation. Cards then are printed and delivered to the CMN hospital of the consumer’s choosing. Chico’s will donate $1 for every card created, up to $50,000 total. To date, more than 13,000 digital cards have been sent.
“There are many unique components to the 'Send a Smile' campaign, especially social sharing,” Jessica Wells, VP of Social Marketing for Chico's FAS, told Retail TouchPoints. “It’s especially exciting that we’ve now implemented social media, which allows our customers to connect with each other, their communities, and our company anytime and anywhere. Social sharing is crucial to driving awareness; after all, the more cards we create, the more smiles we send.”
“Send a Smile” is an integral part of Chico FAS’ “May Is For Miracles” campaign, a multi-faceted program which extends into all of its brands: Boston Proper, Chico’s, Soma Intimates and White House Black Market. The month-long campaign raises funds for 170 CMN hospitals across the U.S. Along with the new social sharing promotion, Chico’s customers also can purchase a Miracle Balloon Bracelet or a Creating Miracles Charm Bracelet, available in any of the retailers’ 1,250-plus boutiques nationwide and online.
However, the most powerful attribute of the “Send a Smile” initiative is the consumers’ ability to donate to local hospitals, according to Wells. This localized marketing approach resonates with Chico’s target customers and allows the brand to focus its efforts “on positively affecting the lives of our associates, our customers, and the communities in which we live and do business,” Wells stated.
“CMN hospitals is unique in that every dollar raised in our boutiques, online and via ‘Send a Smile’ benefits the children's hospital in a purchaser’s local area,” Wells added. “That means that our customers have the opportunity to give back directly to their communities and possibly even to a family or child they know.”
By expanding its work with CMN hospitals to the online channel and partnering with ePrize, the retailer also is able to reach on-to-the go shoppers more effectively, according to Jen Gray, VP of Marketing and Creative Services for ePrize.
“It’s really important for brands to create campaigns across multiple channels,” Gray told Retail TouchPoints. “Retailers have to be ready to engage and optimize communication with shoppers on whatever platforms they prefer, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Though we’ve been a Chico’s FAS partner for a while, the primary goal this year was to mobilize the online social community, really boost awareness and leverage this social community through pure engagement play. It also shows that the brand is caring and willing to join specific community conversations.”
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