04/09/2013 07:02 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2013

Yoplait's Cause Marketing Deepens Customer Engagement

The Challenge: Companies can deepen their engagement with customers by championing powerful causes. However, in order for these efforts to be effective, customers must feel that your efforts are authentic and truly helping the charity.

When brands are effective with cause marketing, it can also be a win for the product category. Yoplait®'s successful Save Lids to Save Lives®program was ranked number one by shoppers as the brand they purchase most because of its association with a cause. Not only has Yoplait, as a brand, benefitted from high awareness and purchases resulting from the 13 years supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but the yogurt industry as a whole has been elevated. The yogurt category is ranked 5th among products consumers purchase because of their association with a cause.

Keep In Mind...

After selecting a cause for your company that you, your employees, and your customers are all passionate about, the next step is to make sure that not only the charity gets something from the partnership, but that customers feel good about it too.

A win-win situation for the charity and your customers should be the goal; this is achieved when customers feel their life is enhanced by the charity efforts and that good feeling is transferred to how they feel about the marketer.

If you are wondering about the financial return on investment, according to Edelman's annual goodpurpose® study, in 2012, 47 percent of consumers made purchases from brands that support a cause.


1. Ensure that your customers connect with the charity and approve of the way the campaign is executed. When choosing between two companies with similar products that engaged in cause marketing, 70% of those surveyed cited "personal relevance of cause" as the reason they choose one company over another.

2. Make sure your cause relates to your brand. Coca-Cola, known for polar bears in their commercials and on their cans, teamed up with World Wildlife Fund. Donations from the campaign helped raise awareness for the conservation of polar bears' habitats.

3. Be transparent about how you are distributing funds to the cause. Show the results and the progress made as a result of your charity partnership.

4. Make sure the cause you choose has the highest grades. Research the history and rating of the charity and understand the guidelines, rules, and laws governing companies that make charitable donations through marketing campaigns.

5. Incorporate social media into your campaign so that donors can share their charitable efforts, thereby increasing the reach. Bing's partnership with benefited schools with a contest that called for entries through social media. Make sure everyone receives value and reputations of all parties involved are enhanced.

Ernan Roman is recognized as a Customer Experience innovator and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for creating three transformational methodologies: Voice of Customer Relationship Research, Integrated Direct Marketing, and Opt-in Marketing.

He was also named by Crain's B to B Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".

His latest book on marketing best practices is titled, : Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the author of the widely read blog, "Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices", (, and author of "Opt-in Marketing" and "Integrated Direct Marketing".

ERDM's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, NBC Universal, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Symantec.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based strategies, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with customers and prospects of these clients to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high value customer relationships.