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Rue La La halts most sales to support nonprofits focused on race issues

Rue La La paused sales through its mobile application and Web site on June 24 to commemorate victims of the attack at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, with the exception of a t-shirt, sales of which will benefit nonprofits that help bridge racial divides.

Rue La La sent out an email to customers on Tuesday informing that it would be closing all of its boutiques for the day  to mourn for the victims of last week’s deadly attack. The retailer designed a t-shirt to raise money for nonprofit organizations that battle the ongoing racial issues plaguing society today, and devoted all its sales efforts Tuesday to raising funds.

“Racial prejudice is a problem and one requiring more action and involvement by all of us,” said Robin Domeniconi, chief marketing officer at Rue La La. “Last week¹s unfathomable act of violence in Charleston was the latest in a series of similar, horrific events that have deeply saddened our company and employees.

“We closed our boutiques Tuesday to speak up for the better world we need to create,” she said. “We offered a single item for sale, a specially designed t-shirt to allow our members to express the equality goals we must strive for in our society.

“All of the net proceeds from the sale of the T-shirt will be donated to nonprofit organizations that help to bridge our racial divides.”

Retailer reach
Rue La La is known for its mobile app, in which users sign up as members and can purchase merchandise as if shopping through a virtual boutique. Closing down its business practices Tuesday allowed for the brand to create a positive representation in the eyes of consumers.

For the brand, it is important to pay attention to public issues. As the retailer has a strong reach, it is imperative for the brand to use its resources to help those that cannot.

Pausing its usual ensures positive sales for the non-profit t-shirt. Many users who access the Web site and app daily did not have the option to purchase anything else, and were better aware of the shirt.

Incorporating sales of the t-shirt into its everyday merchandise could cause the effort to go unnoticed. Through the digital pause users are able to take note of shirt and nothing else.

The digital retailer focusing all its efforts on commemorating the victims will secure that consumers will pay attention and be cognizant of the brands that stand for these issues.

Rue La La has taken similar efforts in regards to similar tragic events such as the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the bombings during the Boston Marathon and the tragic shootings in Sandy Hook.

Three members of the Rue La La team ran the Boston Marathon in April of this year to show their support of the victims. Boston is home to the retailer, so this made it all the more important for its staff to get involved.

The retailer also took to social media to spread the word of this effort and encouraged others to get involved as well.

To pay tribute to the victims of the attack on the Sandy Hook elementary school, Rue La La closed its digital retails as well and opened later at 3pm on December 17 in 2012.

Non-profit marketing
Many brands and retailers are following this methodology and raising awareness and funds for non-profit organizations. 

Macy’s kicked off its American Icons summer campaign with a selfie push on social media as it sought to embody the easygoing, fun-loving lifestyle of the warmer months while cementing its all-American image through raising money for non-profit organization Got Your Six (see more).

Also, The United Nations Children’s Fund initiated a mobile program to raise funds to help the survivors of the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal, and while text-to-give is still playing an important role for the nonprofit, its strategy is evolving with a bigger focus on social commerce, including $Cashtags from Square (see more).

“Throughout the years, Rue has spoken out about tragedies and issues that matter, the day after the Boston Marathon bombings, in response to Sandy Hook and on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to name a few,” Ms. Domeniconi said. “Yesterday was one more of those times.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily