The TBSL team was having lunch at their favorite local bistro, discussing sales and aid. Sales had topped 3 million bars, which meant over 3 million food aid packets had been donated to some of the worst spots in the world suffering from severe malnutrition. It felt good to have made such a difference. And yet, they all knew that there were still millions of children in danger of starving around the world. As their discussions often had done in the past, the topic eventually shifted to ideas for how to do more. It was a recurring theme, which had lately taken shape in discussions of different ways to encourage customers to give more by buying more bars in larger quantities, though the group had suggested other options as well.

Todd commented on one of the most common ideas that had been discussed a number of times by the group. “I still think we need some way for customers to give extra money when they place an order. If we had some way for customers ordering online to click a box on the website and fill in an additional amount, we could collect the extra and use it to provide additional food packets.”

Chloe responded, “As long as it is optional I don’t think customers would mind, and those that wanted to could give as much or as little as they wanted. I think it would be something in line with our mission, and we’ve had several customers ask how they can give directly to our partners. I think we should definitely consider it going forward. We could add instructions on the packaging and on the website, and include links in our social media to maximize the opportunity for customers to give additional money to help our aid partners. We could call it the Direct Giving Option and market it via our traditional and social media. We might even be able to get some publicity coverage if we put together some media information announcing it as a new initiative. I think people would get excited about it. We’ve had people ask about it before. We could even provide a direct link on our website where customers could click to go to our partner sites and donate to them directly. This would increase the visibility of our partners, and we should get some added positive buzz for being the catalyst for giving that matches our customers with our aid partners.”

Ryan had a slight frown on his face as he added his opinion. “I like the Direct Giving Option idea, but I have two main worries. We would need to figure out how to handle the added donation. Would we want to just pass cash through to our partners, or would we want to make the extra donation in bar equivalent? And if it is bars, how do we make this clear on the website? What will customers think if we turn their cash into bars? If it is cash, then how will the partners use the cash? We’d like it tied to our bars so we get the benefit and the association. We also will likely have some additional costs in handling additional donations no matter which way we decide to do it. My bigger concern, however, is whether the additional giving option actually might have a downside for us. Will offering the option for customers to link to our partners encourage customers to link directly with our partners in future without buying bars from us? Will highlighting the potential option for customers to give more directly to our partners focus unwanted attention on our business model? In other words, is it possible we might have some customers who decide that the giving to end malnutrition is the ultimate goal and so giving without having us in the middle might be more effective? And even if it doesn’t go that far, it seems possible that offering the Direct Giving Option might cause customers to question how much of the money they spend on bars actually goes to food aid. Is this something we want? As I said, I like the idea, but it seems clear we need to think about this further before we do anything.”

Todd added a final thought as the check arrived. “Well, let’s not forget that our customers buy bars already and they buy our bars because we also have an important mission that resonates with them. I think some of them would definitely want to do more if we could provide a good option for doing so. I am also in agreement with Ryan, though. We need to think this through before we implement anything because it needs to be done right or not at all. Let’s think about it over the weekend and we’ll bring it back up on Monday. Now, whose turn is it for the check?”

What to Do?

The TBSL team agreed to consider the potential consequences of adding the Direct Giving Option. It seemed clear there would be some potential to increase customer giving, which would benefit the partners fighting malnutrition abroad. This was something that fit with the mission of TBSL. And, it seemed clear that allowing customers to give would be seen as beneficial for those who wanted to give more and also for the aid partners who could certainly use the additional funds to fight malnutrition. However, TBSL wondered how allowing customers to give directly might affect TBSL. Specifically, they were wondering if customers, when provided the opportunity to give directly, might choose to give directly instead of purchasing TBSL bars. If this happened, it would mean lower sales and could potentially lead to fewer customers. In addition, TBSL was concerned that providing the Direct Giving Option would highlight the fact that purchasing bars only partially helped those in need. A customer considering buying $30 worth of bars on the website, now considering just donating the $30 directly, might begin to question TBSL’s motives. How much of each dollar would really go to the aid partners? Customers questioning TBSL’s motives or contribution to the aid partners could undermine the basic TBSL business model. Clearly, this would have to be considered more carefully before any final decision was made.

Questions that need to be answer are below and explained your reasoning please

1. Does it make sense for TBSL to try to increase customer giving using its other Ps? In other words, while TBSL already uses its product decision (BOGO) to encourage and facilitate giving to its malnutrition cause, should they also try to increase giving opportunities in other ways? Why or why not?

2. What are the potential advantages for customers, TBSL, and the aid recipients if TBSL adds the Direct Giving Option on the package, website, and social media communications?

3. What are the potential negative consequences for customers, TBSL, and aid recipients if TBSL adds the Direct Giving Option?

4. Would you suggest they add the Direct Giving Option or not? Justify your decision.

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