Volcom, a company that makes designer jeans, surfwear, and other apparel for the youth market, is taking steps toward corporate social responsibility with the announcement of its second year of its “Give Jeans a Chance” program. Customers can bring a good condition, used pair of jeans to one of 300 retail locations and donate them to homeless shelters through the program, which last year collected 5,000 pairs of good quality used jeans. The company aims to collect 10,000 pairs this year. As part of the brand strategy for Volcom, customers donating used jeans will receive a Volcom-branded hat, T-shirt or sticker with the “Give Jeans a Chance” tagline. The program is being conducted in partnership with the National Coalition for the Homeless. As Volcom’s target market is largely skating, surfing youth, this effort at corporate philanthropy engages a constituent group that may otherwise not be exposed to much socially responsible business entities (this is not the Whole Foods demographic). So what can other companies learn about the effort at engaging target markets that are not necessarily deep green? First off, the company communicates on the level of its clientele: “Last year’s drive proved to be rewarding to all involved,” said Derek Sabori, Volcom’s Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. “You see the photos and people are just stoked… Stoked to give back.” There are tangible rewards for the jeans recycler, too. Besides the branded T, sticker or (presumably flat-brimmed) hat, donors are entered into a raffle with potential to win a year supply of Volcom Brand Jeans, a $1,000 Volcom prize pack or one of the 50 runner up prize packages being offered. And they may be just as stoked about that as the actual program itself, showing that tangible rewards, even branded ones that improve customer loyalty and are part of a company’s broader specialty advertising campaign, can engender positive goodwill among customer groups.
Scott Cooney is a Volcom jeans-wearer, surfs the fantastic waves of San Francisco, and uses the words “rad” and “stoked” regularly in conversation, clearly indicating that it’s not just youth that can be influenced by corporate cause marketing strategies such as the one above.