Involving Banks In Social Projects Through Marketing Alliances


The concept of social and ethic aspects of marketing makes a strong case for introduction of social interests in making marketing decisions. As a major asset for engagement business structures into practices of sustainable behavior is their participation in socially significant marketing alliances with non-profit organizations for joint implementation of social projects. The authors of the article marked that within the alliances each of the partners achieves its own benefit within the framework of the win-win strategy. It is necessary to implement interdisciplinary approach to the study of socially significant marketing alliances. Authors propose to systemize the theory that form the theoretical and methodological basis of such alliances. It is underlined that at present it is possible to observe the wide spread of socially significant marketing alliances with the participation of the domestic banking sector. The practice of participation of Russian banks in socially significant marketing alliances is generalized and systematized. It is emphasized that it meets their economic interests, related to the diversification of business and the growth of customers’ loyalty. In terms of practical implementation, calculations based on the author's methodology are presented, which allow assessing the economic effectiveness of the bank's participation in a socially significant marketing alliance on the example of a joint project of Sberbank of Russia and the charity fund "Gift of Life". In the conclusion, authors proved that the participation of banks in socially significant marketing alliances is an effective way of involving them in solving urgent social problems of society.

Keywords: Marketing alliancessocial projectscorporate social responsibilitysocio-ethnical marketingthe non-profit sector


During the last 10 years, issues related to sustainable development, Corporate Social Responsibility of business, the concept of social and ethical marketing and other forms of implementing social responsibility are actively discussed. Scientists and researchers are actively discussing the definition of corporate social responsibility. In 1953, G. Bowen first introduced the concept of social responsibility of a businessperson, defining it as the implementation of such decision-making policies, or following the behavior pattern that would be desirable for the purposes and values of the society (Bowen, 1953). Whereas, M. Fridman in his works argued that the corporate social responsibility of business is to increase the profit of the organization "(Friedman, 1970). In this context, the concept of social and ethical marketing emerged and developed. It is aimed, According to the interpretation of F. Kotler and K. Keller, to take into account in the process of market activity the organization of the interests of all parties, including society. It should be noted that the principles on which marketing activities of modern companies should be built are described in details in the literature (Kiseleva et al., 2016a).

One of the forms of realization of the concept of social and ethical marketing is a socially significant marketing alliance, involving a formal or informal group of the commodity-based and voluntary sectors in order to achieve both business goals and solution of current social problems. Within the context of a socially significant marketing alliance, each of the partners aims at getting benefits within the framework of the win-win strategy. Consumers who purchase a product created by joint efforts of the parties within the alliance can be also counted as participants. However, consumers in some cases tend to leave such alliance. This may be due to their unwillingness to change their routine in behaviour. (Kashapova et al., 2016), and in general the orientation towards traditional patterns of behaviour and disinclination for innovative purchases (Ryzhkova et al., 2016).

The participation of banks in the implementation of the concept of social responsibility, social and ethical marketing and socially significant marketing alliances demonstrates the willingness of their owners to participate in solving the problems of society. Thanks to the application of this concept, banks have the opportunity to reduce risks and diversify activities, improve the reputation and brand awareness, increase customers’ loyalty and, as a result, increase profits. Eighty percent of large Russian banks use the concept of social responsibility in their work (Lukin, 2015). In addition, currently, one can observe the active dissemination of practices of socially significant marketing alliances in the Russian banking sector.

Problem Statement

The study of socially significant marketing alliances should be conducted from interdisciplinary positions of view. Only having considered the deep nature of this phenomenon, it is possible to study in details this new form of social responsibility for the marketing. However, there have been no attempts to classify theories of forming socially significant marketing alliances in foreign and Russian literature. The authors of the article try to solve the problem of their systematization (Table 01 ). At the same time, we believe that when studying socially significant alliances, it is necessary to take into account both marketing, economic and behavioral parameters (Menshikova, Khazanov & Verkhovskaya, 2016).

The contemplation of alliances outside the interdisciplinary approach does not allow to take into account all aspects of the relationships of their participants and to assess the economic effectiveness of such interaction.

Table 1 -
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According to Davis (1960), socially responsible decisions can influence on the long-term result. Analyzing the practice of socially significant marketing alliances, we conclude that organizations purposefully incur expenses of their implementation in order to achieve in long-term prospects a stable flux of profits and favorable conditions for all interested parties. They seek to strengthen their positions in the market, turn out from competitors, form the reputation of a socially responsible company and, as a result, increase the value of the business. At the same time, participating in such alliances, commercial organizations increase customers’ loyalty and assist the non-profit sector in implementing projects aimed at solving urgent social problems of the society.

Research Questions

The form of bank’s participation in a socially significant marketing alliance is a co-branding card. A co-branding card is a banking product created with the participation of a partner or partners from the non-profit sector. It is branded by all participants of the marketing alliance, includes bonus programs for consumers and involves deduction to non-profit organizations from transactions made with the help of the card. Table 02 presents examples of socially significant marketing alliances implemented with the participation of Russian banks.

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In 2015 according to MasterCard’s data, 88% of population in Russia uses bankcards (MasterCard). Among them are elderly people, who use information and communication technologies increasingly frequently, and are regarded as a long-range segment of banking products. (Ivankina et al., 2017)

According to the research, findings of the company RBC.research, in August 2016 there were about 100 co-branding projects in the banking sector. The largest number projects were in the retail sector, joint projects with airlines and charity projects (RBC market research, 2016).

Co-branding cards allow business partners to leverage new channels of marketing, to generate additional value for cardholders. The main source of banks’ income is the attraction of financial resources of individuals, the security enforcement and the safety of monetary funds. The banks have a task to develop an attractive product for the target audience. Issuing of co-branding cards can help to expand market share, improve financial performance, and become a competitive advantage with respect to other banks.

Currently, it is important to build and develop a privileged relationship with customers. In this regard, we consider that the bank's employees must perform three important activities. Firstly, to create a psychological portrait of the client to demonstrate a qualitative individual approach to clients (Kiseleva, et al., 2016b). Secondly, to apply a universal model of the stages of customer relationship for the effective management of sales of banking products (Kiseleva et al, 2016c). Thirdly, to create a competency framework for employees who come into personal contact with clients (Kiseleva, Anikina, 2015).

In the situation of oversupply of offers in the banking sector, it is advantageous for a consumer to have one card, with which he receives a set of privileges from valuable brands. At the same time, if one of the partners is a non-profit organization, as in the case of the Sberbank project with the charity fund "Gift of Life", the consumer can also realize the need to provide assistance by allocating a certain percentage of transactions for “act of kindness”. According to the research of civil society of the Higher School of Economics, 62% of respondents are sensible of responsibility for what is happening in the country (Center for Civil Society and Non-Profit Research.), which from our point of view is an important motive for their involvement in the implementation of similar projects. In addition, an important incentive for the development of such projects is their higher economic efficiency in comparison with classical bankcard products.

Purpose of the Study

The authors of the article submit their own approach to the calculation of the economic efficiency of the socially significant alliance of Sberbank and the fund "Gift of life". Debit cards of different categories are taken for calculation: Visa Classic, Visa Gold, and Visa Platinum. The assessment is based on the comparison of the classic and co-branded cards issued within the project.

According to estimates of Alioth, which is engaged in manufacturing of bankcards, the turnover on the co-branded accounts is 1.5 times higher than for classic cards (Vasiliev, 2013). It is confirmed by statistics. Therefore, for example, according to the report on corporate social responsibility of Sberbank for 2010 (Reporting), as of January 1, 2011, the number of Visa cards "Gift of Life" was 225 thousand pieces. In 2010, holders of Visa "Gift of Life" card made trade transactions at a cost of 3.3 billion rubles. Thus, each cardholder, on average, made transactions at a cost of 14,666 rubles. At the same time, according to the statistics of the Central Bank, in 2010, 144.1 million bankcards were issued in Russia; 1040 million transactions were made on payment basis for goods and services at the amount of 1346.2 billion rubles. Thus, for each card, traffic averaged 9345 rubles. As a result, each holder of Sberbank card "Gift of Life" spent 1.56 times more than the average Russian who owns a bankcard.

Table 03 submits data arranged by the years on the amount of deductions to the charity fund "Gift of Life" based on corporate reports of Sberbank. In general, for the period from December 2008 (starting time of project implementation) to June 2017, about 300 million rubles were donated to help child patients.

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According to the table, for the non-profit sector the implementation of the co-branded project is an attractive tool of investment promotion for financing its activities. In the non-profit sector, there is also serious competition for monetary funds of the sponsors. Therefore, charity funds offer projects attractive for investment. The example of such project is a joint participation of no-profit organization and bank in issuing of the co-branded card.

Research Methods

Let us consider the tariffs and service conditions of debit "ordinary" and co-branded bankcards of Sberbank. The data were generated from the bank's website (Table 04 ).

Table 4 -
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The average volume of payment transactions on bank cards of Sberbank in 2016 was 10,354 rubles. The calculation of the given index was made from the service "Open data of Sberbank" and is taken as an average of 12 months (Sberbank open data.). The choice of the average is due to the unequal allocation of payment transactions on bankcards in different months. The average amount of payment transactions on bankcards of the project "Gift of Life" is taken by Sberbank is 15 531 rubles, as it was mentioned above. The average volume of payment transactions on Sberbank's co-branded cards exceeds the average volume of payment transactions on classic cards by 50%.

The service charge of debit cards of the "Gift of Life" project for each type of cards is higher than the service charge of classical debit bankcards. Another difference between the classic cards and co-branded cards of the project "Gift of Life" is deduction to a non-profit organization. This deduction makes 0,6 % from each payment transactions on a co-branded card. The maintenance period for all types of cards is 36 months. Both types of cards are connected to the "Thanks from Sberbank" program, which means a refund to customers in the form of bonuses of 0.5% from payment transactions.

Commission income and expenses determine the economic efficiency of debit cards for a bank. The commission costs for Sberbank's bankcards include expenses for reporting transactions (table 05 ).

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Commission income of bankcards can include Corporate and Retail Banking Services for private and corporate customers (Table 06 ).

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Tables 05 and 06 show calculations based on data from the Sberbank Annual Report for 2016 (Annual reports). In this case, the calculation of economic efficiency is made relative to the monthly averages, the table shows commission expenses and incomes per one card for one month, provided that the number of cards by the end of 2016 was 107,280,000 pcs., among them 89 880 000 pcs. of debit one.


As a result, a comparison of classical debit cards and co-branding cards of the "Gift of Life" project was made (table 07 ).

Table 7 -
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Thus, according to our calculations, the profit of the bank before tax on the co-branded Classic cards is 77 rubles per card, Gold - 261 rubles, Platinum - 802 rubles per month. The amount of deductions to the charity fund is 107 rubles, 149 rubles and 302 rubles respectively. Put this in perspective; take the indexes of the classical bank debit card of Sberbank. The profit before taxation of the bank on such a card in case of using Visa Classic is 203 rubles, for Visa Gold - 408 rubles and for Visa Platinum - 566 rubles respectively.

As a result, the co-branding card implemented on the Visa Platinum platform has a higher profit in comparison with the classical one. The excess is 236 rubles per card and is due to the higher cost of servicing for the customer and higher traffic on the card. In addition, it is important to note that, thanks to this, the largest amount of deductions to the charity fund "Gift of Life" is generated on this card, in comparison with other cards within the framework of the project.


Nowadays, sustainable development and corporate social responsibility are becoming important topics in scientific discourse. Linking socially responsible behavior with the goals of increasing the profit of the organization generates a marketing approach to the problem of solving social problems of the society within the framework of the concept of social and ethical marketing. The business aspiration to obtain benefits from socially responsible behaviour is reflected in the emergence of socially significant marketing alliances, within which non-profit organizations and consumers are involved in social projects. The interaction of the participants in such alliances is based on the principles of win-win and requires studying from the standpoint of an interdisciplinary approach that involves the consideration of both marketing, economic, and behavioural aspects. The approach offered by the authors to the systematization of theories that underlie socially significant marketing alliances makes it possible to advance towards the formation of a full theoretical and methodological base for such alliances.

The participation of banks in socially significant marketing alliances is an effective way of involving them in solving urgent social problems of the society. The development of socially oriented co-branded banking products contributes to the solution of the problems of banks, non-profit sector and provides an opportunity to meet the needs of customers, while contributing to the implementation of social projects. The study of statistical data by the authors and extensive factual material (cases) allows us to state that the Russian banking sector is actively involved in the practice of socially significant marketing alliances in the format of co-branded cards.

The number and variety of co-branded bankcards created by joint efforts of banks, non-profit organizations and charity funds allows us to assert that banks see the attractiveness of banking product for the target audience. The economic efficiency of such projects is also important. Our approach to assessment, based on the comparison of the profitability of classic and co-branded debit cards, showed that the co-branded Sberbank card, implemented on the Visa Platinum platform, provides the bank with a 41.6% increase in profits from each card, compared to a similar Classic card. At the same time, from each co-branding card, deductions are made in favour of the charity fund "Gift of life"


This work was performed by the authors in collaboration with Tomsk Polytechnic University and Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radioelectronics


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