Krispy Kreme: Q&A with marketing manager Alison Reeves
Doughnut brand Kripsy Kreme last week announced a 12-month strategy to drive "cultural relevance" in the UK, 12 years after it first launched in Harrods. The Drum caught up with marketing manager Alison Reeves to find out how Kripsy Kreme is working to reconnect with its audience.
The Drum: Krispy Kreme is hoping to drive a new ‘cultural relevance’ in its upcoming campaigns with PR agency Devries Slam. Do you feel that this is something the brand had lost?
Alison Reeves: No, I don’t think we’ve lost it but we’ve been in the UK market now since 2003 and we are quite a long-standing brand here, so it’s just always good to re-look at things and reinvigorate the brand. I don’t think it’s anything that we’ve lost, we're just after a bit of a fresh perspective to make us a bit more culturally relevant in these changing times. What we used to do - even two years ago - is very different to what we should be doing now for our customers. We’ve also got some really nice brand pillars that we base all our campaigns on, and this is about bringing those to life with the PR guys.
What do you mean by cultural relevance exactly?
Times are changing in terms of what people want and demand: from not only brands as a whole, but what they are looking for in terms of sweet treats. In London, particularly where we started, we had a big impact when we opened in Harrods and then we rolled out to other stores and the focus had shifted across the UK. So it’s about bringing things back to life - especially here in London.
With that goal in mind what are the outcomes you expect to see and how will you measure success of the new campaigns?
It’s very hard for us to say how we measure things. Predominately we use the usual PR mechanisms, so social listening and things like that. We have quite a large presence on social media, so we turn on our social listening tools around the times we do campaigns. We think it’s important to listen to what people are saying about us: whether we need to adapt things for next time, as well as understanding how things have worked. We really want to increase our brand sentiment, and the best way to do that is through PR and social listening.
You mentioned moving away from traditional food pages – can you explain that strategy and how you might imagine that playing out?
I don’t think we are necessarily going to completely move away from them, because we are a product brand and we really appreciate the coverage that we get from the food press. We have a great in-house NPD team who work really hard with companies to source products and make ours the best that they can be, as well as staying on top of trends. I think the food pages will always play a role in that. But if we want to look at the millennial audiences we need to create a range of things – experimental etc. – to help create buzz and tap into that market a bit more.
We just did something recently – we launched a Reese’s donut back in April and we brought it back because consumer demand for it was so high. To re-launch it we did a big piece - mainly on Facebook - asking which donut should return. We then ran an online campaign asking people to go ‘Nuts for Donuts’. We went out to Hyde Park and asked people to do something silly for a donut.
How will you look to differentiate these new campaigns from previous work?
I think we always focus around the product launches, so that the product itself will remain the heart of what we do in terms of the campaign. People love our donuts but it’s about connecting the brand with something, so that’s what we need to build on. We are looking at it on a campaign by campaign basis so we’ve just done a big summer campaign. Last year we made it all around donut week. This year we didn’t really think that was relevant, so we based it on summer picnics and summer loving – we have a great milkshake range so it is centred around the product but it just sits in with the season. In terms of the approach when we look at a campaign, we try and make it different each time. I don’t know whether I can reflect on what we used to do before with the old agency and what we do with Slam, but it’s just a case of working with them to see what is topical at the time and how we can work that into a campaign.
How does your marketing help to distinguish Krispy Kreme from competitors such as Dunkin Donuts which has recently had a resurgence in the UK?
I don’t think we are doing anything different with competitors coming into the market. As a brand we quite welcome competition here - because consumers want different things and having that choice is a good thing. In terms of what we are doing, there are certain areas in the UK that we have more competition than others, so for city areas where there is a lot more competition from niche brands – so not even the big brands, but the foodie trend – we work on a local basis with them and also set out a whole campaign such as Halloween. Then we look at what we can do on a local level to engage with that community - because what we do in London is different to what we do in Manchester or Scotland, because it’s just very different cultures.
The media has heavily reported on healthy living and cutting back sugar, does that make it difficult to market a product that’s very high in sugar?
Yes, [but] I think how we pitch [the brand] is that we don’t ever directly market to children. We often get asked to support a local school event or those types of things, and as much as we’d like to we just don’t want to put ourselves in that position of doing that. We say anything in moderation is ok, we’re not saying eat a donut a day, but we like to promote sharing and we sell our boxes by the dozen and we promote occasions. We are very aware of sugar and we do take that into account when we are developing products, but equally it’s a treat so there’s only so much we can do with it but we focus on the angle of sharing and everything in moderation.
Social media is something that you are going to be working with Slam on do you have any indication of your aims and how you might what to adapt your strategy?
We’ve got an in-house team who run our social… and we’ve intermittently had help with that but a lot of it has been through her [the social media manager] doing it. But it’s great to have Slam on board because they do our PR as well, and having that whole arena helps close that marketing and gives us a much better approach.
They’ve been helping us try different things and so I think like a lot of brands at the minute - the way Facebook and their algorithms work mean that posts aren’t getting as much coverage as you want. Slam is really helping us on that and tailoring how we can get higher engagement rates with our fans because our social media and the database that we have are the biggest assets for the company. They allow us to talk directly to our customers, and shape and develop what we are doing in terms of campaigns and products going forward. Quite often we do polls with them, so our 'Friends of Krispy Kreme' [scheme] has a database of about 350,000, so at the moment we are looking at what products we are thinking about doing next year and then we will take it to a poll, see what they say, and that’s what we move forward with to develop. We really take what they say into account because they are the ones that will go and buy the product.