What do a Kit-Kat candy bar and ‘Pause to Support a Cause’ have in common? The answer is: Hershey’s, America’s largest producer of chocolate and chocolate products. Led by a true pioneer in the field of shared value, Edward Martin, the brand is making giant leaps in the field of corporate philanthropy. Martin’s motto “who else can win if I win” has introduced shared value principles to all aspects of Hershey’s business.
In particular, Martin, the Director of Marketing Excellence and CSR Insights at Hershey’s, has helped to re-conceive Hershey’s supply chain with innovative new programs, such as Hershey’s approach to cocoa production in Africa. Project COCOALINK, also spearheaded by Martin’s colleague Andy McCormick, leverages Ghana’s rapidly growing mobile phone infrastructure by providing cocoa farmers with updates on farming practices, farm safety, child labor, crop disease prevention via a mobile messaging system. Through these real-time updates, Hershey’s supports farmers to produce a healthier crop and increase earnings. The shared value outcome of an increased agricultural yield helps assure a higher quality of life among farmers and a constant and high quality supply of cocoa for Hershey’s own production needs.
On the consumer side of the business, Hershey’s has begun investing in mutually beneficial cause partnerships to inform emerging market penetration strategies. Rather than investing in a market research firm, Martin surveys his potential future customer – the Brazilian/Russian/Mexican/Chinese/Indian mothers and children – by supporting local social entrepreneurship. Hershey’s has funded social entrepreneurial initiatives intended to fight hunger, illiteracy, gender inequalities, to name a few. Through these partnerships, the brand gains exposure in the new market (at a grassroots level) and collects valuable insights that will later be used to inform their business strategies.
Martin also helped launch ‘Survey for Good’/’Pause to Support a Cause’. This program leverages the local knowledge and opinions of nonprofit constituents to offer corporate partners detailed insights, collected through online surveys. The initiative, launched through the CMO Counsel, incentives the consumer to participate in these surveys by asking the company that benefits from this research to make a donation to the charities identified by the consumers who participate.
Through these initiatives, both internally at Hershey’s and externally with programs such as ‘Pause to Support a Cause’, Edward Martin is demonstrating how shared value can function as a core driver in business development. Hershey’s has not only re-envisioned their supply chain, but they have also embraced their ‘real’ audience when designing strategies for new market penetration. As with all shared value campaigns, these initiatives benefit their local partners and communities, while reducing costs to the brand.
Edward Martin continues to re-define the paradigm of shared value by leading through a simple, intuitive motto that we would all be wise to borrow: ‘Who can win if I win?’