In 2005 Age Concern (now Age UK) had a partnership with Innocent. It involved little woolly hats being placed on Innocent smoothies that were then sold in Eat and Waitrose stores.
It is a very special ‘cause related marketing’ promotion. The hats are knitted by older people in local Age Concerns and the funds raised go straight back to those centres.
However in 2005 Age Concern raised £20,000 from the promotion, which was quite a modest return for considerable effort. We believed there was significant potential to grow the partnership.
Age Concern investigated the possibility of knitting more hats by involving more local centres. We estimated we could increase the scale five fold in two years.
So in 2006 we went to Innocent with an ambitious proposal to substantially grow our partnership. It involved a significant step-up in sales, marketing and project management.
Innocent were very excited by the proposal and shared our ambition for growth. So they took the promotion to Sainsbury’s who were pleased to put it in store.
This was a period of significant investment that produced rapid growth. In particular we added tags to the hats so we could tell consumers how their purchase was changing older people’s live. We also developed new online content such as knitting patterns and ‘hat of the week.’
The growth in success over the next two years was phenomenal. The number of hats grew from 80,000 in 2005 to 400,000 in 2007 and the contribution to Age Concern grew from £20,000 to £200,000. Also we won the Business in the Community Award for Cause Related Marketing in 2007.
The partnership between Age UK and Innocent continues today and has now raised over £2 million to keep older people warm in winter.