Well done to Wawa!

Earlier this month, I ran out of ground coffee at home. Eager to not miss my morning cuppa, I remembered that my local Wawa makes a decent brew. Popping into the car, I secured a delicious 20oz. mug of the dark stuff within a few short minutes. (A bit of sugar and plenty of skim milk, in case you were wondering.) Yet, it was only after I had climbed back into the car that I took notice of a stroke of brilliance from Wawa.

Wawa supports the Red Cross

The cardboard protective sleeve around the paper cup notified me in a bright, clear way that Wawa was a regular and dedicated supporter of the American Red Cross. “Hmm …“, I thought, “that’s good to know. I am glad that such a big company is actually a decent one too. I wonder if it’s more than just a publicity stunt.

A bit more analysis

Back home, I sipped the good coffee and thought a bit about the value of Wawa’s support of The Red Cross. There were a number of value insights to be garnered from a review of Wawa’s actions.

The following are just a few points:

  • A highly visible CSR initiative: By promoting its support of the Red Cross in such a visible way, Wawa is broadcasting in a very effective way that it is a responsible and socially aware company.
  • More than just show: A perusal of Wawa’s website makes it pretty clear that the company is committed to charitable/social causes. There is a grant system with a clearly stated set of interests. The press releases section of the Wawa website includes a number of events and programs that Wawa has to support the Red Cross.  Within those press releases are several quotes from Red Cross executives thanking Wawa for their commitment to the Red Cross.
  • Crafting CSR into daily operations: Wawa must go through thousands of hot cup protector rings in a day. That the company used such a regular part of its commercial offering as a method of showing their support for a charitable organization suggests that CSR has deep roots at Wawa.
  • Putting its money where it asks customers to: A review of Wawa’s website shows that Wawa conducted a campaign in January to aid the  Red Cross with its effort to assist in Haiti. Wawa’s customers donated $350,000 to the effort, to which Wawa added $50.000 of its own money. That’s a big company following through on what it asks of its customers. Wawa didn’t just ask for others to help — it put its own money in.  (Of course, organizing donations through its sales system would also have cost money to implement.)
  • A possible reduction of production costs: It would not surprise me to discover that Wawa might have been able to convince the company that prints its protective sleeves to provide the ‘Red Cross’ sleeves at a discount as it was part of an effort to raise support for the Red Cross.

So, “Well done” to Wawa for getting so much right!  They certainly caught my attention and I shall be studying them in the future, looking to learn from their business savvy.

Going the exta step

About the only thing I could say against Wawa in connection with this post is that there doesn’t seem to be a mention of the Red Cross on the company’s website.  For a retail company like Wawa, recreating the inviting atmosphere of its shops on its website seems a natural progression.  I would have liked to see a logo and link on the Wawa home page to the Red Cross website. (In fact, I didn’t see anything on the Wawa website about being Twitter or Facebook.  A check of Facebook shows that Wawa has a very active fan page.)

The American Red Cross is online at http://www.redcross.org; the International Red Cross can be found at http://www.icrc.org.

6 thoughts on “Well done to Wawa!”

  1. Interesting!

    The closest analogy I can come up with is FC Barcelona (http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/) and Unicef (http://www.unicef.org.uk/) i.e. Barcelona effectively turning down lucrative shirt sponsorship for a good cause. Their view was that nothing could buy the ‘Barca’ shirt.

    Coming from an innovation agency perspective, it’s also refreshing to see CSR coming through in this way.

    Not connected in any way but “wah wah” in Hindi (India) means “well done” so well done indeed to Wawa.

  2. @ Vijit,

    The Barcelona comparison is a good one. Another great example of large company (any football club that size is definitely a company!) keeping a steady focus on the community from which it draws its customers.

    And thanks for the tip on the ‘wah wah’. Very cool indeed.

  3. It’s nice to know that a large corporate organization is enabling their customers to easily participate in social responsibility.

    Liam, your final suggestion is a good one. Wawa has made it easy for their customers to get involved with the Red Cross through their coffee sleeves, but not so much on the site.

    It is important to include Red Cross linkages on their site because:

    1. Higher Contribution Rates – customers will contribute more. They are already at their computer. A smaller percentage of people will call the number on the sleeve.

    2. Low Cost – The cost to implement this linkage is negligible to Wawa. The upside is potentially large.

    3. Increased Brand Awareness – If Wawa makes acquiring information about the Red Cross and donating to the Red Cross easier for customers who care about social issues, those customers will associate Wawa with the strong brand of the Red Cross for a many years.

  4. JP –

    Your three follow up points are particularly insightful.

    Enabling customers to make further donations online to Wawa’s charity of choice would have been a natural progression of what Wawa was doing in it shops.

    Thanks for pointing that out so clearly.

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