- DoorDash has launched a new program called "Kitchens Without Borders" that supports immigrant- and refugee-founded restaurants, according to a press release sent to Restaurant Dive.
- The company said Kitchens Without Borders spotlights the human stories behind these immigrant- and refugee-owned restaurants to create a connection between customers and the people making the food. The company will spotlight 10 restaurant operators in the San Francisco market on its app.
- DoorDash will also offer these business owners credits to fund a free delivery promotion for six weeks, as well as prime in-app placement and other marketing opportunities.
The Kitchens Without Borders campaign comes on the heels of Grubhub's expansion of its RestaurantHER initiative, launched last year to support women-led restaurants, and Caviar's Women-Powered with pineapple collection on its app, which features women-led restaurant leaders. In a press release, DoorDash said the objective with its new program is to provide visibility to historically under-resourced food entrepreneurs while "cultivating a more sustainable and inclusive food economy."
Cause marketing might be new for delivery companies, but it isn't for restaurants themselves. Chipotle has long supported small farms through its Food With Integrity campaign, while White Castle raises money for autism and Jersey Mike's donates millions of dollars for a variety of local charities every year with its Day of Giving. Creating such a campaign around a specific hook, such as Women's History Month, is a good way for restaurant brands to inject themselves into the narrative of the moment. McDonald's, for example, just launched "Better Together: Gender Balance and Diversity," aimed to improve the representation of women at the company.
Even smaller restaurants get involved in similar efforts. In early 2017, dozens of restaurants in the Washington, D.C., market pledged their profits from President Trump's inauguration day to LGBTQ and women's causes, for example. But a challenge emerges when, like these D.C. restaurants, the cause could be perceived as being too political and, therefore, polarizing. Chick-fil-A has grappled with this since 2012, when it was first discovered the company donated to organizations that work against gay-friendly initiatives. The fallout was swift with student protests banning the chain's expansion onto college campuses all over the country. The backlash continues to this day. Just last week, the San Antonio airport rejected Chick-fil-A's development because of its alleged "legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior."
What's political is often personal and some may perceive DoorDash's new campaign to be off-putting as the debate over immigration policies intensifies. But with an initial launch in San Francisco, the risk for DoorDash is likely negligible. Among 50 of the biggest U.S. cities, San Francisco is considered the friendliest city for immigrants.
Further, there's a business case for cause marketing. According to Aaron Allen & Association, 91% of global consumers are willing to switch brands to support companies tied to charity, while 50% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product associated with philanthropy. Those numbers remain high when such philanthropy is tied specifically to political or social stances. According to research from Edelman, 64% percent of consumers worldwide — including 59% of Americans — will make a purchasing decision based on a brand's social or political position. "Brands are now being pushed to go beyond their classic business interests to become advocates," said CEO Richard Edelman.