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What is Generous Store?
In February 2012, chocolatier Anthon Berg inspired a ‘sweet’ movement of generosity by setting up a one-day pop up store in downtown Copenhagen, Denmark. Instead of paying by cash and credit cards, people paid for chocolates with “good deeds.”
Different packages of chocolate had different ‘prices,’ ranging from “Serve breakfast in bed to your loved one,’ ‘Help clean your friend’s house,’ and ‘Don’t comment on your girlfriend’s driving for a week.’
To hold people to their promises, Anthon Berg staff provided iPads at check out and asked people to log on to Facebook and pledge the good deed on a friend’s Facebook wall.
’You can never be too generous’
Established in 1884, Anthon Berg was famous for its premium quality chocolate, and catered to upper middle class Danes and the Royal Danish Court. Long lines were common outside the store, and Berg and his staff often passed out chocolates to those waiting. It was this spirit of generosity, and the premium chocolate that helped build the brand over the last century.
However, the brand has languished in recent years, and has lost the perception of being different and superior to other chocolate brands. The Generous Store was launched to re-establish these values, rejuvenate the brand, and help it stand out in the minds of consumers.
Robert/Boisen & Like-Minded (RB+LM), the agency behind the campaign, described the brief they received from Anthon Berg:
“The client wanted us to make people rediscover the Anthon Berg brand and make them engage with the positive effects of being generous. As the client firmly expressed it: ‘Give people a reason to be generous; spark a wave of generosity; and make it travel through Denmark with our name on it.’”
By asking people to pledge a good deed, Anthon Berg not only sparked a wave, but also successfully crowdsourced acts of generosity from all the people who ‘purchased’ chocolates at the store.
Response at the store
Designed to attract attention, the pop-up store stood out with its pink branding and a pink entrance area. A large banner read, “The Generous Store,” and blocked view into the store, raising curiosity amongst the people passing by.
By opening hour, a large crowd had gathered and queued up outside the store. Some waited as long as an hour and a half to enter.
In the true spirit of generosity and Anthon Berg tradition, staff handed out chocolate to people waiting in line, adding to the excitement and eagerness to enter the store.
Generosity spreads through social media
Within 24 hours of the pop-up store event, 150,000 feeds were posted on the Anthon Berg Facebook page. This included the pledges people made while ‘purchasing’ the chocolates at the store, and follow up posts after they had carried out the good deeds.
According to Robert/Boisen & Like-Minded, 20% of the customers posted pictures of the good deeds.
Anthon Berg reported a 33% increase in number of fans, and a 1,000% increase in number of people ‘talking about this.’ The Facebook community is currently 56,185 members strong.
A video documenting the events taking place inside and outside the store was uploaded on YouTube, has been viewed 97,193 times, with most views in Saudi Arabia, Denmark and Spain.
Coverage in local and international blogs
PR efforts, on-ground hype and social media activity ensured coverage in local Danish news sites, and popularity of the idea helped spread it across the web, with mentions in more than 1,000 blogs and websites.
According to RB+LM, the campaign has reached 1 in 20 people in Denmark in two weeks, and 3.75 million people on social media.
Lana Markovic, blogger at Branding Magazine commended the Anthon Berg’s use of social media and ‘free stuff’ to re-establish the brand’s popularity:
“Is there a better way of getting customers’ attention than by giving them free chocolates and at the same time getting them to make someone else happy? With this campaign, the Danish chocolatier managed to reinforce its leading statement – by inspiring people to be more generous the company has created a happier society, and the brand’s popularity has been reestablished.”
Martina Best, blogger at Australian social media agency Frank Media, highlighted the benefits brands can hope to derive by being generous:
“So what’s in it for Anthon Berg? How does generosity pay off for a brand? The pop up store generated a lot of buzz internationally with heaps of blogs picking up the campaign. From a PR perspective, it could not have been better. If you looked at some hard metrics such as brand awareness, brand sentiment as well as sales, I’m sure Anthon Berg saw some rather impressive results.”
Scott Davis, a contributor at Forbes observed that greed is being replaced by generosity in this generosity. Henry Mason, head of research and analytics at independent firm Trendwatching, attributed the opportunity for these “random acts of kindness” to social media, for opening channels of communications between brands and consumers.
The Guardian quoted Mason’s views on this subject:
“For consumers long used to (and annoyed by) distant, inflexible and self-serving corporations, any acts of kindness by brands will be gratefully received. For brands, increasingly open communications both with and between consumers (especially online), means that it’s never been easier to surprise and delight audiences with [random acts of kindness]: whether sending gifts, responding to publicly expressed moods or just showing that they care”.
Impact on bottom line
Some skeptics wondered about the practicality of the Anthon Berg pop up store, and whether the event would be filled with freeloaders who would not convert into customers.
Some, like Janet-Marie Persico, a reader of PSFK.com, questioned the feasibility:
“[It is a] Feel-good idea but let’s be realistic. You can’t run a biz on promises. Who pays for the candy?”
For those unconvinced about the reach of The Generous Store, and the positive brand equity earned by Anthon Berg, the sales figures for February can put these concerns to rest. Sales increased 12% compared to the same month last year.
As the team at RB+LM proudly stated:
“So apparently, generosity does pay.”
Trend: crowdsourcing generosity and kindness
With the rise of social media, and the current state of the economy, brands have begun to see the potential in supporting movements of generosity and kindness.
MSLGROUP’s global offering PurPle points out the opportunity for good business growth by supporting purposes that people are passionate about, including areas of “happiness, kindness and human potential.”
A Young & Rubicam survey, quoted in The Guardian, finds that:
“Once-prized brand attributes that had declined in importance over the past couple of years were: “exclusive” (down 60%), “arrogant” (41%), “sensuous” (30%), and “daring” (20%).
Conversely, the brand attributes consumers found more important were: “kindness and empathy” (up 391%), “friendly” (148%), and “socially responsible” (63%).”
Coke’s global Open Happiness initiative and the recent happiness mobile campaign, and the Perfetti-Alpenliebe’s Kindness Movement in China are examples of branded initiatives designed to spread happiness.
An emerging trend that is apparent in these two campaigns, is that brands are empowering people to perform acts of generosity or kindness. Brands are, in effect, crowdsourcing acts of kindness, and are benefitting from generation of positive brand equity, and an exponential increase in reach.
(MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.
As an example, 50+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the iPad-friendly People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.
As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at firstname.lastname@example.org.)