Background

Salvos Stores, an integral division of The Salvation Army, has over 200 stores within the Australian southern territory. Its two recent marketing campaigns have seen the association focus on educating consumers about its quality product offering and highlighting it as a place where anyone can shop, not specifically those in need. Salvos Stores wanted to be top of mind within not-for-profit retailing, as well as moving higher up in consumers’ considerations when compared to commercial retail organisations.

The Salvation Army in Australia is divided into two separate territories, eastern (New South Wales, ACT and Queensland) and southern (Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory). Each territory operates its own chain of Salvos Stores, which is one of The Salvation Army’s main sources of funding for its many community programs.

Salvos Stores has been a client of DGM Collective for nine years. Through this time, DGM has assisted Salvos Stores to grow from an ad hoc charity organisation where ‘Just do your best love’ was the motto, to the thriving professional retail organisation that it is today.

Currently the pre-loved clothing retail business is very competitive, with a large number of charitable organisations operating in this sector. With the increased popularity of vintage clothing, there are also numerous high-end vintage boutiques that operate in this market. Salvos Stores and Vinnies are two of the largest pre-loved goods providers in the southern territory, with a similar number of stores. Other large competitors include The Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Red Cross and Sacred Heart Mission.

To help Salvos Stores further grow the business, DGM Collective was asked to help broaden the Salvos Stores customer base to include a younger demographic and customers who would not normally shop at Salvos Stores, as well as encourage cross-action by those customers who only donate and those that only shop. DGM Collective also wanted to home in on the three core actions that essentially make up what Salvos Stores do: shop, donate and recycle. This required the brand to adapt in order to appeal to a wider ranging target demographic.

By educating customers, Salvos Stores wanted to increase awareness about recycling through donating and shopping, which in turn helps the environment by reducing landfill.

Overall, Salvos Stores wanted a strategic communication campaign that would alter current consumers’ perceptions that Salvos Stores was a charity organisation where only those in need or ‘alternative’ people shop. Salvos Stores wanted to highlight its stores as a key shopping destination for quality goods.

Campaign: ‘Shop, Donate, Recycle’
Campaign dates: September to November 2009, February to April 2010
Client: Salvos Stores (southern territory)
Agency: DGM Collective

Objectives

Creating a campaign that made the Salvos Stores brand stand out from other charitable retailers, as well as compete on the same level as commercial retailers, was always going to be challenging. Addressing the existing perception that Salvos Stores was only for people in need is a hard mindset to break. As well as this, as a not-for-profit Salvos Stores have to work within a limited budget compared with traditional retailers.

To begin with, the client gave DGM Collective some specific objectives that it wanted to:

  • smooth the flow of donations throughout the year (currently donations occur in peaks and troughs)
    increase overall sales throughout the year
  • communicate with and educate a broader customer base, including the 25- to 35-year-old market, that Salvos Stores has something to offer everyone
  • communicate to customers the benefits of shopping at Salvos Stores, including value for money, unique items, vintage clothes, new goods and that money raised goes to fund Salvation Army community programs
  • differentiate Salvos Stores from other pre-loved charity retailers, and
  • educate customers that by shopping and donating at Salvos Stores, they are contributing positively to the environment by reducing landfill.

This first campaign incorporated a central TVC, produced using a colourful mix of live action and animation. A high-energy, bright, attention-grabbing advert, aimed at introducing the three new Salvos Stores mascots – Shop, Donate and Recycle.

The primary aim of the advert was to introduce the new characters and promote the key messages of ‘Shop, Donate and Recycle’. Instead of focusing exclusively on sales or donations, as has been done in the past, this campaign aimed to communicate both of these messages simultaneously, therefore increasing sales and awareness, while maintaining a consistent stream of donations.

Launching at the start of February 2010, the next instalment continues the journey of the three characters and further highlights the three core actions that Salvos Stores want consumers to take; i.e. shop, donate and recycle. The tagline ‘There’s a shop, donate, recycle in all of us’ encourages consumers to undertake cross-action; e.g. shop after you donate or donate when you come in to shop. By promoting this cross-action Salvos Stores could increase sales and donations, using its existing target market.

Visually this campaign was streamlined and simplified, compared with the first commercial. The clean background and limited distractions through ambient activities allowed for the focus to be placed on the key actions that Salvos Stores wants consumers to take.

Strategy

The reasoning behind the overall strategy was to create a campaign that was not only effective in terms of the basic ‘sales and donations,’ but also to create something that stayed in the minds of consumers. DGM set out create a campaign that stood out from other not-for-profit organisations and allowed Salvos Stores to become a strong market leader in the pre-loved retailing market.

This campaign aimed to create a story about the three characters whose application went beyond the initial campaigns and into a whole multidimensional strategy. The aim of these campaigns is to encourage the target market to look at Salvos Stores in a new light and to undertake the two core actions, shopping and donating, thereby automatically participating in recycling.

The initial campaign incorporated an extensive television campaign (both regional and metro) for five states. Television spearheaded this campaign, as it was the perfect medium to get the energy and creativeness of this campaign across to a wide range of consumers.

Programming for the media schedule was varied in order to target Salvos Stores’ core customers, 25-to 55-year-old women, with some specific segments in shows to capture younger audiences.

The campaign was supported through an outdoor campaign utilising tram and bus exteriors. The outdoor complemented the TVC by using a hero image of the TVC and highlighting the tagline ‘Shop, Donate, Recycle – Come in for a good idea!’

Outdoor was used to capture consumers on their way to stores and while they were in transit. Given the geographic spread of Salvos Stores, the outdoor media directly passed many of the stores. This was further supported at store level with A0-sized posters featuring the campaign hero shot and tagline in every store window.

For the second campaign, the use of outdoor media was increased to incorporate tram and bus interiors, 24-footers and in Victoria (with nearly 50% of the stores for the territory), a super tram was wrapped, creating a strong visual presence in Salvos Stores’ core geographic area. Feedback from the first instalment indicated the outdoor media had a strong effect, hence the decision to increase this medium for the second instalment.

A unique interactive m-site was created for this campaign. This site explained in more detail about the characters and the key messages. It also allowed users to view the new advert and make comments.

The TVC was also uploaded to YouTube and without any supporting communication to promote this it still received nearly 1000 views.

Additionally Salvos Stores trialled cinema advertising; this was specifically chosen as it is a growing medium that allows Salvos Stores to target its customers both geographically (e.g. proximity to the stores) and demographically (through the type of movie chosen).

Execution

The campaign was rolled out with an initial launch to all Salvos Stores area managers and store managers (approximately 250 people) at the first territorial conference in August 2009.

First instalment of the campaign duration:

  • television – 13 September to 8 November 2009
  • outdoor – 28 September to 4 December 2009
  • m-site – launched 14 September 2009
  • in-store promotion – posters installed September 2009, remaining until second instalment changeover, and
  • cinema advertising – 24 September to 8 October 2009.

The second instalment duration:

  • television – 14 February to 30 March 2010
  • outdoor – 1 February to 14 April 2010
  • m-site – launched 1 February 2010, and
  • in-store promotion – installed 1 February 2010; these promotions will remain in windows until instructed to remove them.

As The Salvation Army runs its Red Shield Appeal during May and June, Salvos Stores had to balance its own campaign roll-out by capturing the target audience after the New Year period without impeding on the time-frame of the Red Shield Appeal.

Results

The nature of Salvos Stores’ business means that there are natural sales peaks and troughs that don’t coincide with the flow of traditional retailers. No matter what, during the Christmas period Salvos Stores go through a slowdown in sales as consumers focus on Christmas shopping and getting their families through the Christmas period.

The graph (Figure 1) highlights the spike in sales during the September to October period with the traditional flattening out of sales in the November to December period. Salvos Stores also recorded record sales figures in October, making it the highest sales month in Salvos Stores’ history.

The second graph (Figure 2) shows the high levels in the number of home collections that occurred from the period of August 2009 to January 2010. Home collection bookings are one of the significant ways that Salvos Stores is able to quantifiably measure an increase in donations. As Salvos Stores does not perform a traditional stock take, measuring the physical levels of donations is impossible.

Finally, the last graph (Figure 3) shows the change percentage increase in home collection bookings from the same period in 2008 to 2009 when this campaign ran. Towards the second half of the campaign from October to November, there was a significant boost to the number of home collections booked, approximately 13% in November alone.

During the 2009 period that the ‘Shop, Donate, Recycle’ campaign operated, Salvos Stores received a significant number of calls to its 13 SALVOS number. This number is promoted on all of Salvos Stores’ collateral. The number of calls received during the three-month period during the campaign was 13,015 in September, 13,793 in October and peaking at 18,542 in November.

In 2007, Salvos Stores had 52 donors in Victoria and nine in Western Australia and South Australia – Northern Territory and Tasmania had none. In total there were 61.

Today there are approximately 2740 donors and the numbers are continuing to grow. From July 2009 to December 2009, there has been a massive growth in corporate donations. Several of Australia’s largest organisations have now decided to partner with Salvos Stores.

In rough terms, in 2007 Salvos Stores were asked to collect approximately three to five corporate donations every week, but today the average weekly number of corporate donations is approximately 54, with over 200 corporate donation collections every week.

What is very relevant to note is that Salvos Stores’ sales revenue increased, as did calls received by the call centre and the number of home collections remained high during this period despite the effect of the Victorian bushfires.

During the Victoria bushfire crisis, Australians dug deep and generously donated a huge amount of goods and money to those in need. This meant that later in the year, the public had less to give in terms of pre-loved clothing and goods.

The success of this campaign has led Salvos Stores to incorporate these new mascots across its business. The new recycle character will shortly be appearing on all the donation Sulo bins around the territory and on the new range of hybrid trucks that are set to hit the roads in early March.

As well as this, Salvos Stores has commissioned the production of soft toys, which became available in stores in March.

With the results of this campaign, we need to keep in mind that it came at a time when Australia was experiencing its biggest phase of economic downturn for many years.

Through the launch of this unique campaign, Salvos Stores’ core objectives were achieved. In terms of measuring the effectiveness of this campaign, communication can be measured if the behaviour of the people that you are communicating with has changed. In this case, behaviour has changed, with more people donating and shopping at Salvos Stores than ever before.

Although, no specific research was undertaken, anecdotal evidence suggests Salvos Stores has seen a genuine broadening of the customer base over the last 12 months. This can be seen in an increase customer visits, as well as penetration into what is now a key segment for Salvos Stores – the youth market.

Salvos Stores saw a significant increase in donations after this campaign (unfortunately, exact donation levels are impossible to measure), but warehouses in states with extremely low donations saw the warehouse either full or return to normal levels. This also shows the key ‘recycling’ messages are getting through consumers, whereby instead of adding to landfill, they are making the effort to bring their pre-loved goods to Salvos Stores.