Consumer advocacy is on the rise as corporations take a more active role in mobilizing their customers and supply chain vendors to advocate at the grassroots level on public policy. This is a compelling trend that has the potential to significantly expand in the coming years as more companies develop a willingness to deploy calls to action (CTAs) at the point of purchase.
Grassroots practitioners should capitalize on the psychology of purchasing power beyond calling for boycotts of companies or putting pressure on them through their purchasing power. Grassroots practitioners should develop point of purchase advocacy campaigns.
Scanning your ticket at a professional sporting event? Take action to support legalization of sports betting. Shopping for a leather coat in the fashion district? Take action to oppose a statewide ban on the sale and manufacture of leather. Ordering coffee at a progressive locally sourced gourmet shop? Write to your elected officials calling for a ban on plastic straws. Checking in at your hotel? Sign a petition opposing the new luxury tax on rooms. The list could go on and on. Point of sale advocacy or even point of entry advocacy is an area of grassroots that could explode.
One can leverage email, social, texting, and other forms of submission at the point of transaction. The key for these campaigns being successful rests on five things:
1. The willingness of the company to directly engage a customer on a potentially controversial issue.
2. Education of the frontline staff on the goals of the activation including scripting scenarios of customers’ reactions.
3. Effect of the initial advocacy campaign on the bottom line of the business.
4. The swiftness of implementation and total time of activation.
5. Clear case studies of major brands and companies utilizing this tactic effectively.
Now, there are challenges here. Arena management wouldn’t tolerate a backed up line of people confused about signing an iPad petition to legalize sports betting. And no retail outlet would burden their customers at the checkout with a longwinded speech about a particular policy proposal.
But there’s potential for well-crafted consumer-advocacy campaigns to leverage mass amounts of people at the point of sale or the point of entry. The advantage of this type of consumer advocacy is the qualifier of immediate affirmation of interest.
You wouldn’t be shooting from the hip searching for advocates who aren’t remotely interested in your brand or issue. With that qualifier companies can launch campaigns directed to their consumers in-person and can coordinate these activities with other online tactics. Even if the activation doesn’t happen at the point of sale or point of entry, consumer advocacy can be referenced in an email to attendees, fans and, customers.
Grassroots toolkits supporting these types of activations could offer a new business opportunity to public affairs firms looking to sell corporate/association clients on a highly visible and highly effective grassroots deployment. But there’s no question that there are also associated risks with this activity. It’s important to recognize from the beginning that an apolitical or anti-political customer could be aggravated by any CTA.
Nonetheless, the companies and consultant that can stomach a few negative reactions will be able to produce instant results and exponentially expand their grassroots arsenal to new frontiers.