22 February, 2011

Intern Sweatshop: Wheat Thins > Kryspy Kreme

You’re sitting in your house watching reruns of Home Improvement when someone knocks on your door. To your surprise, a man quoting your tweet, “I love wheat thins and tuna,” drops off a pallet of snacks. That’s how Wheat Thins and their “Crunch is Calling” social media-driven campaign, brought to you by The Escape Pod, works. Kraft Foods/Nabisco’s intentions are focused on engaging a new target audience of women and men ages 25-45, an audience vastly different than their traditional consumer base of women 45 and older.

The broadcast commercials themselves are humorous and awkward for the posters/tweeters, who are ambushed by the crew. There’s also the possibility of having your picture on the box or a whole pallet of Wheat Thins--your own 30 seconds or so of fame.

Wheat Thins’ big problem was that their traditional consumers thought of them as “just a traditional cracker.” And with a different market segment for a product that had become “too familiar” another approach was necessary. Through consumer research it was found that the crunch, flavor and texture were key attractions to the new, younger audience. So in order to bring these qualities to their audience, reinforce their brand identity, and more actively engage and interact with customers, Wheat Thins turned to social media with the hope that this new campaign would stimulate comments on Facebook and Twitter and have consumers follow the brand there as well.

This reminds me of how popular Krispy Kreme donuts were back in the late 90s and early 00s. Everyone and their parents were raving about these airy donuts that were served hot and only available in the southern states. When Krispy Kreme stores opened, cars were wrapped around the outside of stores for blocks, waiting patiently for their chance to indulge. After everyone stuffed themselves, the product reached a saturation point, the hype ended and Kryspy Kreme's became just another donut. The novelty wore off. Now, I certainly enjoy donuts and milk, even though it’s been a while since I’ve had them. It’s like I forgot how awesome they are in the morning. But again, what was once a go-to morning delight is just something else to have for breakfast. And I can't say I'm not thinking about buying one while writing this, but I can’t say if that will translate into a purchase sometime soon.

Now Chick-Fil-A’s Free Breakfast Thursdays is yet another example of a company staying in touch with their customers. There was also the “I Can Handle The Heat” campaign, where just uttering those words at Chik-Fil-A would earn you a free sandwich. Then there’s the Get Spicy Chicken and Nuggets Campaign, where customers signed up online to receive a free order. Some of the campaigns included an in-store survey for direct feedback taken after the customer indulged in the free chicken delights. If you doubt the success of customer engagement, they opened 80 new restaurants in 2010 and raked in $3.5 billion in sales.

Now, merely posting on Twitter about their love of Wheat Thins may keep the brand current in customers' minds. It will be interesting to see if the campaign helps Wheat Thins remain relevant to their new target audience, or if people will still see the Wheat Thin as "just a traditional cracker." But For Twitter user 7hr33 who wrote “Leprechauns broke into my apartment stole a box of Wheat Thins I was saving for a party...is there a warranty for this?” March 17th is right around the corner. You might want to be on the lookout for a little Irish guy bearing crunchy treats. I'd want to see that commercial.

--Stephen Telljohann, Creative Department Intern with Crunch, Flavor and Texture

Last Time on the Intern Sweatshop: How Ben Found the Secret to Internet Buzz

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