BoxLunch is a specialty store with a cause. Like other retailers, they donate a portion of their proceeds to support philanthropy – in this case the hunger relief organization Feeding America. But BoxLunch is unique in that its philanthropic side is integral to the brand’s DNA.
Customers won’t be able to overlook BoxLunch’s mission. The brand’s tagline, “Get Some. Give Back.” is displayed on everything from its logo online to shopping bags in-store. For every $10 spent at BoxLunch, the company helps provide a meal for a person in need through their partnership with Feeding America. BoxLunch, an offshoot brand of 600-store chain Hot Topic, opened in November of 2015 and is on target to provide more than three million meals by the end of the year, far exceeding their original projections.
“You can’t walk into our stores or shop online with us without knowing what our mission is,” says Robert Thomsen, Vice President, Merchandising and Marketing. “People come into our stores and know that they are helping people with every purchase every day.”
The model is unique. As their business grows so does their philanthropic impact. The charity is woven into all aspects of retail from point of sale to marketing. One example; rather than being bombarded with the latest promotion, customers are greeted with their mission to help end hunger.
A Distinct Brand
From its inception, BoxLunch was conceived as a cause-oriented, but for-profit business featuring a broad range of clothing, accessories and home goods for adults and children.
“We asked ourselves, if we did this all the time, what percent of our business we could devote to this charitable endeavor,” says Thomsen. “We didn’t realize there was more to it, that we could do more than donate a meal for every ten dollars spent. We are actually creating a community of people with a common interest to pay it forward, from our customers to employees.”
“People light up,” Thomsen adds. “They want to do something good. It resonates with customers and sales associates alike. Everyone feels like they have a stake. Associates can work anywhere in the mall, but they can choose to work with us and do something cool and good. And we’re surprised by the desire to do more. Customers are making direct donations over and above the meals they are generating from their purchase. Our stores are reaching out to local food banks to volunteer and run local food drives. We have also offered to match and double up donations during key selling periods.”
BoxLunch’s loyalty program, too, is unique. The program is measured (and shoppers are rewarded) by how many meals they have provided. In addition to receiving discounts on future purchases, loyalty members are rewarded by having additional meals donated to Feeding America in their name.
Are BoxLunch customers aware they are supporting hunger relief when they shop its stores, and is this awareness driving them to purchase, or are they simply attracted to the products? Jon Kosoff, Senior Vice President of eCommerce and CRM, says the brand has conducted surveys that show its customers are well aware and are driven to purchase because of its mission.
“We are retailers first,” says Kosoff. “But we’ve put together a model where we and our customers can provide a meal for someone in the communities we live in.”
Like other retailers and brands featured in our Conscious Commerce series, BoxLunch says philanthropy is ingrained in the organization. It would have to be, since that is why the brand exists. “Two years ago, when this concept was conceived, I never would have thought we would be where we are today. This is a dream come true to have a thriving business that is helping people. I am very excited for the future of the brand and our efforts to help end hunger.”