Posts Tagged ‘Personalization’

Dunkin’ with Meaning

Friday, September 18th, 2009

dunkin with meaning

Regular readers know that I’m a big fan of any marketing campaign that gives people the chance to squeeze their creative juices in and around a brand.  So it should be no surprise to hear that my favorite case study from the iMedia Brand Summit where I spoke this week was the “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut Contest.”  The case was presented by Cynthia Ashworth, Dunkin’ Donuts VP of Consumer Engagement (a title the audience loved).  It was obviously not the first “make your own product” contest, but the results show that people’s hunger to be creative and make a brand their own can never be satiated.

Business Challenge

In 2008, Dunkin’ Donuts saw the donut consumption rate among its core users drop.  The main cause was the concern about carbs and growth of the Atkins diet. Franchises were looking for help from the corporate brand to increase sales of this key profit and passion driver.  The company took several measures to improve, including various promotions and some new product launches, but a bigger marketing pop was required to jump-start sales.


Dunkin’ Donuts ran research with lapsed donut buyers.  They found that there were two key drivers of their love of donuts: (1) variety of choices and continuous new options, and (2) nostalgia for simpler times and basic pleasures.  The marketing team identified a “sweet spot” for its efforts to do something that rekindled these desires for variety and nostalgia.


The brand responded with “Create Dunkin’s Next Donunt,” a chance for the company’s core fans to have a hand in adding to the variety of the lineup, while triggering nostalgic memories of their first Dunkin’ Donuts experiences.  PR, TV, in-store, and out-of-home advertising drove fans to a very slick online donut creator developed by our WPP sister agency, Studiocom. Of course, the agency included a bevy of ways to share creations via social media. Many of the 12 finalists actually created and drove traffic to their own Facebook pages, which they used to solicit votes.

There were four key opportunities for press coverage and consumer engagement in the campaign: the contest announcement, the start of the contest, the vote for finalists, and the announcement of the winner. The winner turned out to be Jeff Hagar, with his creation, “Toffee for Your Coffee.”  Here’s a YouTube video from the brand that offers a great recap of the contest:


The contest was an unqualified success.  In terms of engagement, there were 129,000 entries and 174,000 votes, and people spent an average of nine minutes on the site.  There were 90 million national media impressions (a $10 million marketing value). An online media plan was cut after three days because traffic was already far ahead of expectations. Franchises chose to get very engaged in the program, and supported it with more contests and offers in store.

The business results followed this strong engagement. Dunkin’ Donuts enjoyed its highest sales since December 2007. According to Cynthia Ashworth:

“The sales volume was huge, and all of our donut metrics during this period were through the roof.  America’s in love with donuts again.”


In my book, I spend several pages writing about how brands can forge meaningful connections with customers by allowing them to be creative, personalize their brand experience, and share with others.  I talk about how brands such as Kroger, M&M’s, Jones Soda, LEGO, The Simpsons Movie, and Pringles have all seen strong marketing results from this way of meaningful engagement with customers.  The core reason for success again and again is that people are literally putting themselves into the brand when they have a chance to co-create. Instead of just leaving a dull “impression” with traditional, interruptive advertising, customers who co-create a brand build a deep link to the core of what makes them who they are.  And they often cannot resist sharing their creations–and a little piece of themselves–with the friends and family in their digital worlds.

ExactTarget Visualizes Personalization Payoff

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Last week a group of us at Bridge Worldwide got to spend some time with a team from ExactTarget. ExactTarget is a leading provider of one-to-one communication services, with particular leadership in email delivery. A former colleague of mine at P&G, Tim Kopp, is now the CMO of ExactTarget. Great things are happening with their business: The company’s revenue growth is accelerating, and it recently raised $70 million in funding during one of the worst periods in market history. I love the services the company offers and we’ll be exploring ways to work with them in the future. But for this post I wanted to share something special that stood out in their presentation last week: a chart (above) that shows the evolution and payoff of meaningful marketing.

I apologize if this is a little difficult to read, but the visual above is an incredible way to diagnose where your brand lies in the evolution of one-to-one communication. Many brands begin at the far left segment, blasting out the same email to everyone in their databases. But over time, some discover the need for and benefit of adapting their communication by using customer profiles—information such as age, income, and purchase history. Some then do research into the goals of their customers and progress to Persona-Driven models. A small number of brands are using historic and real-time behavior to adapt messaging, and a rare few leaders have modeled their entire database of customer activity in order to predict the rhythms of customer engagement and give them the content they want before they even know they want it.

As this graph shows, case study after case study proves that the more sophisticated companies become at serving meaningful communication to their customers, the higher the return on investment. And this is a payout with increasing marginal returns. For example, a blast email that creates a 1X return on investment might move to a 2X return through Persona-Driven modeling, and to a 10X return with Predictive Messages.

As one might expect, the companies that are doing the most in this space are those with heavy e-commerce businesses, such as Retail and Travel. The reason is that the impact on sales from these adjustments can be measured through actual purchases in real time. To date, industries such as CPG, Healthcare, and Automotive have been slow to adopt sophisticated personalization of messages because they are a step or two away from the final purchase, and the purchase might not ring up for weeks or months after the email arrives.

It takes a leap of faith to make the financial and time investment to turn your one-to-one marketing efforts into something more personalized and more meaningful. But the accelerating benefits make this very difficult to ignore for much longer. Fortunately, companies such as ExactTarget exist to help do the dirty work of making sophisticated marketing happen, and I look forward to working with them in the future.