Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 12, 2010 – Stores across Wisconsin again are asking shoppers to “buy pink” in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges them to buy smart, too.
“Simply because a company puts a pink ribbon on its package doesn’t always mean a good breast cancer charity is benefiting from your purchase,” said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO.
“Consumers hoping to support this very important cause may want to do a little detective work to determine just how much of their money is going to legitimate programs promoting breast cancer education, prevention, treatment and research.”
A BBB survey of products from several area grocery and department stores discovered that companies use a variety of methods in deciding how much to donate to breast cancer work. Plano, Tex.,-based Frito-Lay, which is selling its Sun Chips in a special pink package, says it donates a flat $1 million to its charity partner, Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Ty Inc., maker of Beanie Babies, says it donates a minimum of 25 cents of the sale of each “Hope” bear, a pink plush toy that benefits Komen and the Chicago-based Breast Cancer Network of Strength. Other companies report that they donate a flat percentage of their product sales; still others decline to disclose how much they donate or specifically where the donations go.
In some cases, detailed charity information is clearly disclosed at the point of purchase or on the product itself. In other cases, there is little, or no, information.
The BBB survey found products tied to breast cancer awareness that ranged from rubber gloves to pizza to bottled water.
Among some specifics from the BBB survey:
- Fuze, which markets itself as a health drink, says on each specially marked pink bottle that it makes a 10-cent donation to the Komen for the Cure organization for each bottle sold, about 10 percent of the retail price. The Whitestone, N. Y.-based company also says on its label that it is “proud to donate $325,000” to the charity.
- A 16-ounce pink plastic container manufactured by Arrow Plastic of Elk Grove, Ill., and marked with a pink ribbon notes only that “a portion of the sale of this product will be donated to breast cancer support.” But the company’s marketing manager said donations amounting to about five percent of its wholesale sales of the product go to Breast Cancer Network of Strength.
- A notation on the top of a box of Betty Crocker muffin mix says that Minneapolis-based General Mills will donate $2 million this year to Komen for the Cure.
- The pink wrapper for a Scotch lint roller (retail price: $2.99) notes that the St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M company will donate 10 percent of the price of each roller to Komen for the Cure, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $250,000.
- A pink travel tumbler manufactured by the Trudeau Corp. of Chicago notes that a minimum of 5 percent of its sales will go to the New York-based Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
- A box of “Envelopes for the Cause” distributed by AMPAD of Richardson, Tex., says that “a portion of the profits will be donated to support breast cancer research and education.” But no additional details were available and e-mails and phone calls to the company were not returned.
- Pink and white women’s socks and a pink ribbon enameled pin, both manufactured by the A & E Group of St. Charles, Mo., say only that a portion of the purchase price will benefit breast cancer research, treatment and programs. A company official said that beneficiaries include a variety of research facilities and hospitals, but said the company does not publicly release the percentage of its sales that go to charity.
The BBB suggests the following tips for consumers interested in learning how their pink ribbon product purchases will benefit charity.
- Inspect the product itself for information. Many companies clearly report how much of their sales go to charity and specifically where the money goes.
- Check the company’s website. If the information isn’t on the product itself, it often can be found via the website printed on the product packaging.
- If you still can’t find the information, call the company and ask for it. Firms that use charity tie-ins to market their products should be transparent to consumers.
- Contact the charity directly if you have doubts they are receiving proceeds.
- Check out the charity to decide whether you believe it is worthy of your support. One way to do this is by contacting the BBB to determine whether the charity meets the BBB’s Standards for Accountability. You may reach the BBB by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.