McDonald's is certifiably the King in the Kingdom of Kiddie Consumers. Their Happy Meals that offer children a ‘free’ toy (at the price of a premium on the meal), has become the order of choice for every family that sets a foot in the fast food chain. The giveaway toys are marketed as FUN, EXCITING, COLORFUL, RELEVANT and COLLECTIBLE to young children, and as free to parents. The children’s power to spend at these occasions drove McDonald’s success, garnering nearly 15% of it’s daily business and generating $10 million in revenue per day.
When problems plague our society, consumers turn to conscious consumerism to do their part in saving our world. As people begin to ‘purchase with a purpose’, it becomes the business’s responsibility to convince the customer that with their brand, people’s dimes make a difference, and the most convincing of all appeals is one that is emotional. Chris Milk, film director and CEO of virtual reality company Vrse, has described virtual reality and related technologies as the ultimate empathy machines. Imagine two different narratives. A salesperson comes to your doorstep bearing a speech about the oncoming extinction of honeybees and different graphs depicting their disappearance over the past 50 decades. Halfway through the presentation you lose interest, realize this is just another capitalistic sales gimmick, and close your door. Imagine the second narrative, when a salesperson comes to you with a simple headset, asks you for just 5 minutes of your time, and within those 5 minutes lets you experience the plight of an endangered Honeybee named Alex. With this VR headset, you step into the wings of Alex, and see your dying colony, and your livelihood being snatched from you. Within the five minutes, you experience the cause that the salesperson is pleading you to donate to, and for the first time you have found a reason to empathize. This is what Häagen-Dazs’ ‘Save the Bees’ campaign did, and they managed to secure customer loyalty by branding their product using a social cause, which they advertised not as a gimmick, but as an educational endeavor and an emotional appeal to people. Not to mention the long lasting impact of being a Bee for five minutes of their life!