Uncase Study: How Krispy Kreme Could Leverage Social Media
Note About “Uncase Studies”: Traditionally case studies are used to describe how a company or organization solved a problem. Others with similar problems can then use the case study to understand how they may solve their own problems. I will be writing an ongoing series of “uncase studies” that will outline what companies or organizations could be doing to improve their marketing and community building efforts using social media approaches.
Disclaimer: The companies and organizations that I talk about in my “uncase studies” are not my clients. I attempt to research any of their current work to leverage social media. Just because I write about them does not mean that the people that handle their marketing (internal or external) are not planning to implement social media strategy and tactics that could be far better than the ones discussed in my posts. It means they had not been publicly implemented that I could find at the time my post was published.
So why did I stick to food for my second uncase study? Honestly it was this situation that first gave me the idea for my uncase study series. In the case of Krispy Kreme two catalysts occurred that got me thinking about what they needed to do. The first is that I began to see that Dunkin Donuts was rolling out many social media efforts. The second was the my friend and Talk Social News co-host loves Krispy Kreme and continually tweets about them.
Unlike Flemings in my first uncase study, Krispy Kreme is in a completely different type of market, it is a low cost food that most people buy on the go. To put it lightly Krispy Kreme has fallen in the midst of a declining economy and low carb diets. This is evident when you take a look at the graph below that shows the steady decline of Krispy Kreme stock over the past 5 years.
One can assume that this type of decline is the result of a variety of circumstances and executive choices, but to me looking at this one thing is certain; Krispy Kreme needs a catalyst for change to help them redirect their company and brand to drive growth in the market. Am I suggesting that leveraging social media can be the catalyst for this change: no. However, I do believe that using social media to bring together the power of existing Krispy Kreme supporters so that they can help influence others, would be any important component in the turn-around process for this iconic breakfast brand.
When speaking directly about social media in relation to Krispy Kreme, it is easy to see that they have fallen behind a core competitor; Dunkin’ Donuts.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ Approach:
Is Dunkin’ Donuts blowing me away with their social media strategy and implementation? No, but what they are doing is going beyond listening and beginnings to participate with customers through tools like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Lets take a closer look to see how they are participating in each of these communities.
A quick review of the Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook presence reveals that that have made a fan page that does a good job to leverage marketing campaign materials and videos. They have a pretty active wall and message board and more than 200,000 fans. overall its seems like the have an active facebook community, but could participate more to drive conversations.
YouTube and Twitter:
Notice the their approach to YouTube and Twitter are similar to Facebook and they have manged to build good communities there. I like that I see so many replies on their twitter account, seems like the person running it is doing a solid job. Media Post has an interesting articles about Dunkin’s jump to Twitter.
Krispy Kreme’s Approach:
In fairness to the folks at Krispy Kreme I did reach out to their public relations agency to see if they had a social media strategy in the works, and they indicated that they are working on somethings, but did not say when the would be rolled out.
To me the issue here is not Krispy Kreme VS. Dunkin Donuts because they are really pushing different products. It is that Dunkin has taken action to take advantage of its community online, while it seems like Krispy Kreme is ignoring it. I am not suggesting that Krispy Kreme even needs to have a twitter account, but what it needs to do is step up and participate in a community that has strong feelings about its products.
The fact is that people freaking love Krispy Kreme Donuts and social media is allowing people to share their love more than they ever could before. For example a quick Flickr search shows more than 14,000 pictures of Krispy Kreme donuts.
Am I suggesting that Krispy Kreme leave a comment on each of these 14,000 pictures and tell each user how awesome their photo is? No. This is however, an example Krispy Kreme advocates are sharing their passion about Krispy Kreme products.
Advice and Strategy:
The best thing about leveraging social media is that all situations are different but this one has some great opportunities.
Modernize What You Have
When most people think about Krispy Kreme, they think of glazed donuts and then they think of the famous “Hot Doughuts Now” sign. I know people that have to pull in and buy a doughnut if that sign is on. It is an icon of the Krispy Kreme brand. So build on it. It is 2009 after all. My suggestion let people sign up to get SMS messages every time the “hot” sign is on at the store they choose.
Better yet, since the iPhone is now the most popular cell phone in the U.S. I would consider building an application that lets people see which stores “hot” sign is on related to their current location from their iPhone GPS. The iPhone app to me is a double win, it will help sell donuts, but also tell Krispy Kreme more about their customer base at the same time.
Enlist Your Most Passionate Customers
To be successful using social media you have to start with the best supporters in your community empower them, and currently Krispy Kreme is not doing that. It has a basic “Friends of Krispy Kreme” program that send mailings, but this is not doing much support the people that love the company’s products.
Instead I would suggest monitoring the web for active advocates for Krispy Kreme. For example my friend Wayne Sutton who I cohost the Talk Social News podcast with, absolutely loves Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and if you look at his messages on services like Brightkite and Twitter you will see that he has many about Krispy Kreme. Regardless of your brand it is important to take advantage of people like Wayne who love to talk about your product.
Krispy Kreme could identify people like Wayne across different Krispy Kreme markets and give them each a coupon for a free doughnut everyweek. By doing this the cost would be minimal, but they would keep their best customers happy and ensure a steady stream of pictures, videos and messages would steadily be pumped out on to the web to those people’s word-of-mouth network, but also indexed by search engines for discovery by people outside of their network.
Embrace What The Krispy Kreme Brand Is Today
Krispy Kreme should understand that the Internet has a powerful impact on what a brand is and what it becomes. When I looked at the Krispy Kreme home page a saw something dramatic.
Trans Fat free doughnuts? That is not the Krispy Kreme brand. For most people Krispy Kreme is an indulgence and they don’t want to be reminded of unhealthy the doughnut is. Instead the want it to taste the same exact way it always does, the way it tasted when they were a child. Like it or not this is a more accurate depiction of what the Krispy Kreme brand is to many people.
A quick scan of the web will showcase all of the pictures and recipes of the crazy Krispy Kreme related recipes that people are coming up with. I say take advantage of this, sponsor a contest for the craziest Krispy Kreme recipe or add a recipe generator to the Krispy Kreme Web site that would let people build a recipe quickly ans share it with friends and family members. Embrace what people want to do with your product.
I could go on, but I think that is a good place to stop for this uncase study. Please let me know what you think. I would love to know how to improve upcoming uncase studies.
Bonus Points go to the company (Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme) that is the first to comment on this post.