4 drinks NGO vs product marketing

Sales and sustainability: Let’s talk about marketing, sales and NGOs

by Anja

How was your favourite product marketed to you? We all have it – it could be an item that you use everyday and swear by, or perhaps it’s a little more special, something that took some time to save up for. Either way, in the world of social media marketing, good brand alignment means it’s highly likely that your favourite brands run some of your favourite marketing campaigns too.

This got me thinking more about product marketing – as a marketing agency that caters to NGOs, change-makers and the education sector, Pomegranite and commercial marketing agencies are on opposite sides of the same coin. Advertising, marketing, digital strategy? We do that. So do the big brands – where there are teams of marketers trying to sell you things. We don’t do that.

But the similarities (and the distinct differences) got me thinking, and I decided to share more about it in a recent skills share with the Pomegranites.

NGO vs. product marketing

The biggest difference is probably the most obvious: budget. Big brands almost always have bigger marketing budgets than NGOs because they expect higher returns on their investment. Things like highly competitive market dynamics influence this too – the bigger the brand name, the bigger the budget.

But there are other factors at play that shape the parameters of NGO and product marketing. It is important to note that NGOs have different goals and operate in a completely different context compared to big brands. While brands focus on profitability and market share, NGOs aim to create social impact and address specific social, environmental and economic issues.

Take a look here at some of the key differences between the two sectors:

Table explainer on marketing products and NGOs, NGO vs product marketing

A unique sales brainstorm

And then, a challenge: In my skills share I presented the team with a made-up drink, aptly named “Pomegranite Juice” and asked everyone to build the rest of the product and marketing strategy.

Here’s what it looked like:

Pomegranite Juice bottle

The base idea was there, but I wanted the team to create the rest. The exercise was meant to be a fun way to experience product marketing, which isn’t part of our usual scope. But what was meant to be a mock marketing and sales discussion turned into what can usually be expected in a Pomegranite brainstorm session: changemaking strategy.

“Let’s make sure that a portion of the proceeds go to the people who actually made the drink.”

“We should tell their stories! Can we add those to the back of the bottle?”

“Why don’t we add photos too? Let’s show consumers that there are real people behind the drink.”

Finding middle ground

It’s typical Pomegranite style to want to find the story behind the campaign. We usually ask questions like, who should benefit from this? How do we make them feel seen? We want to make sure we understand the unique landscape of the non-profit sector (which you can read more about here).

While there are significant differences between product marketing from big brands and marketing for the non-profit sector, there are also similarities. At their core, both forms of marketing aim to reach and engage effectively with their target audience by creating a positive perception of their offerings. Both types of marketing also require careful segmentation and targeting – and this is where lines can cross into collaboration.

The brands that strike a balance between sales and sustainability are the ones that truly shine in the market. They find the “middle ground” that sets them apart from the competition. Is this tied to Gen Z’s preference for inclusive, sustainable brands? Certainly. But there’s more to it than that. While there are clear parameters for different marketing sectors, there is also space in both industries for these lines to blur and merge.


A good place to see collaboration in action? It’s international Pride Month! In marketing, that means placing rainbows behind brand logos and the release of things like limited clothing lines. It also means that authentic marketing campaigns – ones that are geared towards creating real, sustainable change and awareness for Pride – will stand out.

Let’s hope for more meaningful collaborations between big brands and NGOs!

Image: Jill Burrow