I love finding examples of innovative and creative corporate partnerships and especially one which is underpinned by a strong alignment between the partners.
Alignment (noun.) – a position of agreement or alliance
Tesco is the biggest grocery retailer in the UK, with a market share of over 27% and 80 million shopping visits from customer every week. In an intensely competitive UK market, it constantly seeks to create a differentiated brand and drive innovation that gives the customer a great experience.
Tesco has partnered with a range of charities over many years and fundraised for them, but it’s a unique collaboration with three key charities in a 5-year partnership called Little Helps for Healthier Living that is breaking new ground in corporate partnerships. Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK are collaborating with Tesco on a joint partnership to improve the health of Tesco shoppers and staff.
Alignment underpins this corporate-community partnership in a number of ways:
- Core business
Although Tesco has an enormous product range, its core business is food- the everyday grocery items that fill our pantry and fridge. The choices that customers and staff make in those everyday items have a profound impact on their health, wellbeing and predisposition to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart health.
- Audiences and reach
For the charities, their mission is to educate the UK public, inform policy and change behaviour. They need to reach as wide an audience as possible with advocacy messages but also source accurate information to support research. Most researchers use surveys or sample groups but how much more valuable is a corporate partner with data on 80 million customers every week. Equally, Tesco would like to expand market share across the UK by appealing to audiences on an area of deep personal interest- their health.
- Collective success
The aim of the campaign is perfectly aligned with Tesco’s corporate goals and the mission of the three collaborating charities. Cancer Research, Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation are all about improving the health and wellbeing of the British public. By improving the health of its shoppers and staff, Tesco will have differentiated its brand and driven customer loyalty in a tough retail market.
The other elements to this successful and innovative partnership are commitment and impact.
This is a five-year campaign, not a one-off and Tesco has committed to fundraising for all three charities in addition to its health-based activities. Tesco is providing access to de-identified information from its sales data and customer loyalty program to the charities to inform their research. The long-term relationships between Tesco and each of the charities through various campaigns and corporate partnership activities have built trust and enabled them to find the alignment that sustains this new collaborative campaign.
As a researcher, your idea of heaven is rich, multi-faceted data. How exciting the prospect of tapping into 80 million customer interactions per week to understand exactly what the British public is buying, how frequently and in which geographic locations. Health charities will be able to see the demographics of who is buying high sugar junk food, for example, the postcodes where they live and their consumption patterns. Whilst it’s slightly alarming that a supermarket knows so much about us shoppers, it’s a goldmine for health charities to allow them to target high risk groups and geographic areas with health messaging, education and policy changes. Given that people with diabetes are 50% more likely to have heart attacks and someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer every 2 minutes, you can see the potential impact of accurate research and intervention. Impact and alignment in a corporate partnership supports meaningful shared goals and actions.
The impact of a collaborative corporate partnership is magnified when it has commitment, meaningful impact and the foundation of a strong alignment between the corporate and community partners. Our advice to corporate partnership managers wanting to develop their own innovative corporate-community partnership is to start with alignment: without alignment there is no clear and compelling reason for partnering with you and you’ll end up back in the quagmire of ad hoc corporate philanthropy.
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