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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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FoodCycle is a British national charity organization that creates tasty and nutritious meals for individuals at risk of social isolation and food poverty. It does this by combining the efforts of volunteers, spare kitchen spaces and surplus food. The organization operates a series of hubs across the UK where volunteers come together and conduct cooking sessions in spare kitchen spaces using surplus foods provided by well-wishing partners such as retailers and grocers. As any other organization, FoodCycle hopes to expand and grow. One of the short term growth goals of the organization at the moment is to scale its network which currently consists of 14 hubs. Through this, the organization hopes that it will increase its societal impact. However, at the moment, the organization faces some challenges that it must overcome if its goal is to be accomplished. The first challenge is how to ramp up local hub fundraising. The other challenge relates to working out the best and the most sustainable growth model. At the moment, the organization is working with partners to test new ways of growing volunteer hub networks and has even considered building on growth models used by other brands such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, the popular food chain where standout hub leaders act as mentors to volunteers. Crowdfunding is the most recommendable strategy for the organization to ramp up its local hub fundraising.  In particular, Indiegogo which is an online crowdfunding platform that has been successfully used by many organizations to raise funds for a variety of ventures is the most recommendable option. For this venture to be successful, the company needs to strategize and come up with an effective campaign. The path to an effective crowdfunding campaign begins with an analysis of the brand itself in order to establish its strengths and weaknesses and the general characteristics of both its internal and external environment. Based on the findings of this analysis, it will be possible to come up with an effective crowdfunding plan that will enable the organization to realize its goals.

Brand Rotor Analysis

 Brand's Core

What: FoodCycle creates nutritious and tasty meals to needy members of the community including those who are at risk of food poverty and social isolation (FoodCycle, 2016). It also empowers and trains volunteers.

Why: FoodCycle believes that food waste and food poverty should not coexist; surplus food in the society can be used to feed those who cannot afford food in the first place or those who are socially isolated (FoodCycle, 2016).

Brand's Touchpoints

Information about FoodCycle is easily obtainable from its website which is ‘foodcycle.org.uk'. The website provides key information about the company including its startup and history, its projects and activities across the country, schedules, contacts, partners, ambassadors, vision and mission among others. The website is easily navigable, focused and organized and any interested party can acquire any information without a hassle. The site contains a lot of graphics including pictures of volunteers and beneficiaries taking part in meal sessions and cooking projects. These arouse the attention of potential donors or volunteers and increases their willingness to take part in the initiative.

Offline, each donor or volunteer is treated with utmost respect and is allowed to participate to the maximum. The cooking sessions are very hyperactive and very empowering, especially to volunteers. Volunteers are for example able to build social networks and make new friends. The cooking sessions organized by the organization brings needy people including the homeless together and while here, they can forget their problems and simply enjoy a meal. The meals cooked are usually very nutritious. However, since the project is mainly volunteer-reliant, shortage of volunteers can interfere with the success of various projects, for example, there may be delays in meals preparation.

Brand Thoughts

The main stakeholders are the permanent staff of the organization, volunteers, donors and finally the beneficiaries who range from the homeless, the socially isolated and the poor in general. All stakeholders speak positively about the FoodCycle Brand and are particularly enthusiastic about the impact it has had on their lives. Permanent staff members claim that running the brand has given them a purpose in life.

Volunteers indicate that they have established new social networks and made new friends through the events hosted by the organization. According to volunteer surveys, 83% indicated that they had become friends with people from outside their culture or background. Most also mentioned that the FoodCycle brand has improved their people skills (The FoodCycle Social Franchise Prospectus, n.d).  70% stated that through Food Cycle, they had developed a better understanding of people from different age groups (The FoodCycle Social Franchise Prospectus, n.d). Others claim that the brand, especially through its events has increased their social confidence (71%) (The FoodCycle Social Franchise Prospectus, n.d). For those who usually stay at home for extended periods, meals sessions organized by FoodCycle helps them get out of their houses more. Volunteers also claim that they have gained crucial skills such as teamwork, leadership and time management from attending FoodCycle community service sessions.

 The beneficiaries, especially those who are at risk of food poverty and social isolation always look forward to the meals created by the organization and many appreciate its tastiness and nutritious value.  For example, surveys conducted on the beneficiaries revealed that 67% of them were eating more vegetables and fruits through Food Cycle's program (The FoodCycle Social Franchise Prospectus, n.d). Surveys also reveal that more than 67% of beneficiaries have use the FoodCycle services ten times or even more in a year (The FoodCycle Social Franchise Prospectus, n.d). They also praise the ability of the brand to improve their lives since through the meal sessions; they can share their experiences with people who have gone through the same, learn from them and gain confidence to push on in life. According to beneficiaries' surveys, more than 67% stated that they felt like part of a community since they started coming to FoodCycle. 71% of beneficiaries actually revealed that FoodCycle had helped them make new friends (The FoodCycle Social Franchise Prospectus, n.d).

Online reviews of the brand are very positive. Stakeholders reiterate how the brand ‘ticks all their boxes,' specifically how it gives them an opportunity to give back to the community and gain crucial social skills. They also reiterate the homely nature of FoodCycle and how it is welcoming to everyone whether a beneficiary or a volunteer. Local community stakeholders are also appreciative of the impact of FoodCycle on the local environment, specifically its reduction of food wastage.

Brand Personality

FoodCycle is a fresh breath of air in the world of food charity organizations. Unlike many organizations which call on donors and well-wishers to contribute strictly via funding, FoodCycle gives people an opportunity to volunteer and take part in its activities, specifically cooking.

The meaning and core promise of the brand resonates with its activities. FoodCycle uses surplus food and prepares meals for needy people in spare kitchen spaces. The brand is not self-centered at all. The focus is squarely on the stakeholders, more so the beneficiaries. There are no strict rules and restrictions during the sessions and this enables easy connection with all stakeholders. Also, it creates an environment where all stakeholders can establish meaningful relationships with one another.

One challenge however in regard to the brand identity relates to the conflict between local autonomy and the national brand. Local hub leaders sometimes aspire to be autonomous and therefore conduct things in their own way while the national brand management aspires to create a national brand image and synchronized way of doing things. This occasionally creates conflict.

Strategic Environment

 Being a non-profit organization, competition is mainly in terms of funding. The more funding there is, the more the impact the organization can have. Similar organizations in the UK are increasingly finding and using new ways of seeking funding and FoodCycle should not be left behind.

 The technological environment is changing, and it has availed new ways of doing things. For example, it is possible to seek funds, donations, and general volunteer action through the internet. FoodCycle has to take advantage of digital technology including tools such as crowdfunding to increase its overall effectiveness.

In regard to economic health, volatility is common given that community donations and fundraising fluctuate across the year.

 Politically, the organization's efforts are being increasingly recognized by political entities including the government, for example, one of the organization's hubs recently received a £10,000 funding grant from the government (Gibbons, 2014). FoodCycle also won The Prime Minister Big Society Award in 2011. The commendations it got from the Prime Minister increased the brand's exposure to the general society, therefore, attracting more stakeholders including volunteers (Prime Minister's Office, 2011).

Interpretation

Based on the brand rotor analysis above, it is possible to point out the key brand drivers as well key brand disruptions of FoodCycle.

Key Drivers

• A strong online presence through the website ‘foodcycle.org.uk' which provides interested parties with crucial information and opportunities and links for donating and fundraising.

• Bringing together of different stakeholders through cooking sessions that empower all

• Recognition from the political front that increases the credibility and attractiveness of the organization to outside parties including volunteers and donors

• Opportunities availed by the technological world, specifically in relation to funds seeking (for example online crowdfunding).

 Key Disruptions

• Similar charitable organizations with wider and better modes of seeking funding and donations

• Fluctuation in fundraising and donations

• Over-reliance on volunteers meaning that volunteer shortage can create problems for organization's programs.

• Conflict between local autonomy and the creation of a unanimous national brand

Target Customers

 The targeted buyer group for FoodCycle's crowdfunding campaign belong to the consumer group known as undaunted strivers. This consumer group consists of people who are confident, status-oriented and tech-savvy. This group makes up 17% of all consumers. The average age of these consumers is 35 while their average annual income is US $53,077. The consumer group is evenly balanced and comprises of about 50% male and 50% female (Holmes, 2015). 42% of the consumers in this group actively contribute and post content on social media frequently. In addition, 74% of them shop online at least monthly. Many would state that the internet plays a role in virtually everything they do, from shopping to relaxing (Holmes, 2015). Most of them tend to opt for online services or apps that help them to advance both socially and professionally. The persona of this consumer group described above perfectly fit the FoodCycle brand and its crowd funding campaign.

The proposed crowd funding campaign is going to be carried out through an online platform, therefore, people who are tech-savvy and who tend to use the internet for extended periods are the perfect target group. Undaunted strivers as mentioned quote the internet as playing a role in everything they do and therefore, it will be easy to involve them in this online crowd funding campaign. Being tech-savvy, they are likely to be already familiar with crowd funding platforms. Simply providing a link to the donation page and a little background information about the campaign's objectives will be enough for them to access the donation platform and contribute. This consumer group also consists of people who are very active on social media. One of the tools that will be used to promote the campaign as will be seen later in this essay is social media. Therefore, it will be relatively easy to reach these people through social media and encourage them to make donations towards this campaign.

When compared with other consumer groups, undaunted strivers have the highest average household income (US $53,077). Therefore, it can be argued that the likelihood of this consumer group to make donations is high owing to the fact that consumers in the group earn higher and are therefore able to spare some money for donations.

Crowd Funding

To reach more people around the country who require the services offered by FoodCycle, and therefore achieve a greater social impact, the organization needs to open up more hubs. Although most foods are donated, there are several other costs that are involved in running the hubs. This means that the brand must continuously engage in local fundraising activities that are geared towards accumulating funds that can then be used to meet these costs and ensure that hubs are operational. The opening of new hubs requires more money. For example, FoodCycle estimates that the startup costs to open a FoodCycle Hub is about £1700.

 Crowd funding provides the best avenue for appealing to potential donors and asking for donations and contributions. Indiegogo is one of the best online crowdfunding tools that if utilized correctly can assist FoodCycle to achieve its financial goals. FoodCycle can use Indiegogo to entice the public to make donations or contributions towards its course.

First of all, for the campaign to be successful, clear goals must be set. The organization cannot simply create a donation link on Indiegogo without coming up with the goals of the campaign and relaying them to consumers. When formulating the campaign, the first question that will be asked is the problem or problems that the campaign seeks to solve. The second question is the people that the campaign seeks to impact while the final question is how this will be done (CausVox, n.d). Although the campaign may have big picture goals as will be seen later, a unique approach will be adopted, that is, a story that makes the organization or the brand and its quest to make the word a better place different, personal and relatable to the prospective or target donors (CausVox, n.d). Therefore, based on the three primary questions articulated above, the long-term mission and story of the project will be broken down into short-term, tangible actions for the campaign that the prospective donors can relate to. In the case of FoodCycle, the ultimate goal is to increase its overall social impact. However, this goal will not be relayed as such to potential donors. The organization will go deep into specifics. For example, the organization will state that it hopes to increase the number of people who benefit from its free meal sessions. Currently, the organization is only able to effectively prepare meals for a limited number of people but with increased funding to cater for the everyday costs; this number can be increased. This will be possible if it scales the current network of 14 hubs.  Increasing the impact of the program can also be reached by organizing more meal sessions and this is once again a goal that should be relayed to potential contributors as part of the campaign. FoodCycle services are currently provided weekly. However, increased funding will enable the services to be delivered bi-weekly, and this will increase the overall social impact of the program.

 Therefore, the overall goal of the campaign is to raise enough funds that will enable the organization to scale its network of hubs and also be able to provide more frequent services to beneficiaries. This will then increase the overall social impact of FoodCycle program.

After outlining the goal of the campaign, the next step is coming up with an effective communication plan. Before getting started on a plan, it is crucial to acclimatize oneself with all the basics of the crowd funding campaign (Gerber and Hui, 2013). These basics will inform the communication strategy adopted and they include the timeline of the campaign, the audience, problem and solutions, partners, fundraising goals, challenges and advantages (CausVox, n.d).

The next step will involve taking stock of the communication tools at one's disposal. In the case of FoodCycle, there are several tools. These range from communication channel resources to content resources and people resources.  Channel resources include email, blog, social media, TV, and radio. Content resources include videos, photos, events, audios, art and graphics. People resources include partners, celebrities, people who the FoodCycle campaign has already impacted, staff, experts, and spokespeople.

Since FoodCycle aims to reach as many prospective donors as possible, it is wise to combine communication resources when it comes to communicating the campaign. The most recommendable ones at the moment include blogs, television, social media, partners, people impacted, staff and celebrities. Before the launch of the actual campaign on Indiegogo, several communication items will be created and managed utilizing the communication resources mentioned above.

First will be blog posts announcing the campaign with a call to action. The other will be an email blast, where people who have been impacted by the FoodCycle project, people who have previously volunteered, local schools among others will be sent an email telling them of the impending campaign. These emails will be sent frequently (with caution being taken not to spam) and recipients will be given any new updates or relevant news. Also, campaign web pages will be created, and these will be used to promote the campaign. These will be constantly updated with relevant news and content. The other communication resources that will be used ware public banners. These will be distributed in different communities, and people will be informed of the official launch day of the campaign as well as how they can contribute. The other communication resource that will be of crucial importance is social media. This is the communication tool that is expected to reach the highest number of people. The best social media tools to use include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Pages for the campaign will be created on each and posts informing and reminding people about the campaign will be made every day, both before the launch of the campaign and after. These posts will also for example highlight champions of the campaign and partners and will also provide links to other campaign related content like videos, photos, blog posts and so on.

Also before the campaign, close contact will be kept with partners and champions, that is, the people who will be promoting the campaign using their own devices. For example, they will be provided with advice on the language that they should use in their promotions as well as advice on donation links and ad referrals. They will also be informed of the approved quotes, logos or bios that they may use

Such a communication plan will ensure that by the time the actual campaign commences, enough awareness will have been created, and donations and contributions are likely to start trickling in immediately the campaign kicks off on Indiegogo. In the course of the campaign, the same communication resources will be used to keep people updated on recent events or happenings, for example, the coming on board by famous personnel and celebrities. This will maintain the interest of the people on the project. Once the campaign is over and the goals have been reached, it will be crucial to once again relay this information to all who have involved. The communication tools used to create awareness will also be used for this purpose. They will be used to give thanks to all who have been involved and at the same time provide information about the accomplishments of the campaign including the total funds collected. Also, it will be crucial to communicate about the positive impact that the campaign has had. In the case of FoodCycle, it will be communicated that the campaign, for example, enabled the brand to increase its provision of meal services from weekly to bi-weekly or that it was been able to set 10 new Hubs in different parts of the country.  Individual appreciation cards providing details of the campaign and thanking the participants will also be sent

Campaign Message

The campaign idea or message that will be used in this particular endeavor will determine whether the campaign succeeds or fails (Gerber and Hui, 2013). As it was mentioned earlier, the key lies in adopting a unique approach. This, for example, includes a story that makes the organization or the brand and its quest to make the word a better place different, personal and relatable to the prospective or target donors. The prospective donors must be touched by the campaign idea.

The message can be relayed in several formats. The perfect format in the case of FoodCycle is a short text that will appear on the interface of the funding page. This will be used to pitch the project to the prospective crowd funders. The other recommendable format is a short film that will also be used to pitch the project and make the funders want to contribute.

The best messages are those that capture the attention of the audience, that educate and tell a story or stories, and that contain a clear call to action (Belleflamme, 2014, CausVox, n.d). Not everyone can visit the donation page after receiving a link and simply donate without wanting to know more about the project. Most people will have to be pushed in through an interesting image, story or fact (Belleflamme, 2014). This is why it is crucial to have a clear campaign message. Below is a recommended campaign message which can be posted on the official donation page on Indiegogo to attract prospective donors and increase their willingness to contribute.

Indiegogo Campaign

According to some estimates, food poverty in the United Kingdom has increased by over 150% in the last few years. Ironically, more that 95% of the country's edible surplus food goes to waste across the food supply chain. This amounts to about 20 million tons of food. At FoodCycle, we believe that food poverty and food waste should not co-exist. That is why since 2009, we have made it our duty to collect as much surplus food as possible and use it to prepare meals for people at the risk of food poverty and social isolation. We have assembled a team of volunteers who during this time have spent close to 40, 000 hours cooking over 50,000 meals for needy members of the community across 14 different Hubs located in different parts the country. We are a small charity that empowers communities by combining volunteers, surplus or excess food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty and nutritious meals for people. Unfortunately, our current network is not enough to cater for the huge number of people in the society who require our services. In order to expand our network and increase our overall social impact to the community, we need extra funds, and this is where your help will come in handy. We kindly request that you donate whatever you can so that we can expand our network and continue providing our services to those who need them.

Our goals for this campaign are two-fold; to raise funds to open new FoodCycle Hubs in regions where the service does not exist and to increase the frequency with which we provide our services. More, specifically, your donations will help us to.

•  Open up ten hubs across the counties of Durham, Derbyshire, Essex and Gloucestershire.

•  Increase the provision of meals services from once a week to twice a week

•  Buy cooking equipment for use in our new hubs as well as our already existing ones.

Please support our campaign and help us grow. By donating, you will be making a huge impact on the life of somebody. Our dream is to make sure that nobody in the UK goes to bed hungry, while a lot of the surplus food in the country is going to waste. With your help, we know we can achieve this dream.

 We thank you in advance for you interest, your participation and ultimately your generosity!

Film Recommendation

It is recommendable that a short film is produced to advertise the project to the audience. This film could begin by telling a short history of FoodCycle including how it started and how it has grown over the years. The film could also include testimonies from people who have benefited from its services. Testimonies from partners and volunteers could also be featured in the film. These will play a large part in proving the authenticity and the impact of the project and will encourage people to donate. The film should also outline the goals of the campaign and how they will be achieved through the help of well-wishers.

 Conclusion

 The ultimate measure of success for FoodCycle's crowdfunding campaign will be the amount of funds that will be raised. If the financial targets of the campaign are reached, the brand will be able to accomplish its goals including the expansion of its hub network. Apart from the amount of funds that will be raised, the company will also benefit in terms of exposure. The crowdfunding campaign will expose the company to a lot of patrons including those who will not necessarily contribute financially. The people may decide to contribute through other means including volunteering at its hubs. A higher number of volunteers will assist the organization to have an even greater social impact in the community. Finally, as the creator of this campaign, I have learn a lot from this activity. I have learned a lot about brand analysis and marketing. I am now capable of conducting a comprehensive brand analysis using the rotor model and identifying the specific brand position of any given entity. I have also learned how to properly market a brand and seek for funding through crowdfunding platforms. These skills will be very useful in my professional life as a marketing consultant.

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