Retailers who are lucky enough to have shoppers walking through their brick-and-mortar doors these days need to be mindful of the one thing that all those shoppers have in common. They are in a mood. And they want to get out of that mood. And they're looking for something outside of themselves to accomplish that for them. The retail teams who know, respect, and respond to the emotional needs of consumers at this scary time in American history will be the ones that make a meaningful connection, make sales, make a positive image for their brand, and most importantly, make loyal customers.
A Krispy Kreme franchisee did that this week when he responded to the mood of America with a promotion for a five-cent cup of coffee. Franchisee Gerard Centioli chose this price point because it is the same price that customers were paying for a cup of coffee when the company was founded during America's Great Depression. This could possibly be the perfect promotion.
It's definitely a newsworthy event. Centioli wins points for relevance and creativity, and that alone should get his Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and British Columbia Krispy Kreme stores some well-deserved attention.
It's obviously also a fundamental loss leader strategy, and one that should work particularly well for a donut joint. The high-fat, high-carb, sugary sweet mainstays of the Krispy Kreme menu board happen to taste really good with the nickel beverage that's pulling the people through the front door. It's hard to believe that too many people are going to plunk down their five cents and not feel tempted or even obligated to purchase something else. And those same bundles of empty calories that have been criticized and shunned in recent years are just the kind of comfort food that people seek in troubled times. Talk about a perfect pairing!
There is a brilliance beyond the obvious with this Krispy Kreme coffee campaign as well. By referencing the Krispy Kreme heritage, Centioli is reminding consumers about the longevity of the brand, and projecting an empathetic image at the same time. The implied message is "We understand how tough it is for you because we were trying to start a new company at the worst time in American economic history."
With a simple promotion, Centioli is cultivating feelings of gratitude and loyalty with his Krispy Kreme customers, and these good feelings about the brand will remain long after the world economy regains its balance. This is not a theory, but a reality that has been proven by many American companies throughout history.
Disney is a good example. Generations after Mickey Mouse provided laughter and escape from the depression of the Great Depression, the Walt Disney company is still reaping the benefits of its goodwill foundation. I saw evidence of this when I worked for the Walt Disney Company at a time when it seemingly had abandoned its own values and was failing to meet its customers' and employees' expectations. I witnessed firsthand how generous people can be with their forgiveness. Customers and employees alike were willing to give the company a break because their love for the brand was rooted deeply in strong positive emotions.
Centioli didn't wait for corporate solutions or programs. He knew his customers, he respected their moods, and he found a way to make a meaningful connection with them in their time of need. For the positive impact his 12 Krispy Kreme stores will have on the Krispy Kreme brand, perhaps the corporate office should consider sending him back some of his franchise royalty checks.