Last Friday, July 8, was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. Glen Tyler, one of my fellow retail marketers at Pointsmith, participated in the event earning himself a completely free meal.Once I saw his brand enthusiasm, I had to join in on the fun. I traded my cape and spandex for an awesome cow costume.
Not only did I receive a free lunch, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere. The store was filled with excited customers, happy employees, and of course, people dressed as cows. This was such a great way to interact with the Chick-fil-A brand. It got me thinking, how do retail marketers utilize brand traditions to engage consumers and ultimately drive sales?
Traditions can be established in many ways. Most people think about family traditions and holiday gatherings at Christmas and Thanksgiving. But you can create brand traditions that create similar emotions for consumers. Take, for example, the consumer who starts their day every morning with Folgers Coffee, that’s tradition. In order to be effective, brand traditions must be simple and meaningful. It’s all about evoking emotion from consumers and allowing them to interact with your brand on a personal level. Creating a brand tradition adds an experiential element, which ultimately adds to your overall brand equity.
Who it works for – Any retail business that is able to create a tradition around their products or their brand. Think about Macy’s. Every year they have the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They have created an event that is now synonymous with a national holiday. There are 150 years of tradition surrounding Macy’s – now, that’s what I call brand power. Another example is McDonalds, and its yearly McRib promotion. They took a limited time offer and turned it into a sensation. They market the event ahead of the promotion to create a buzz around their product. Consumers look forward to the McRib event year round.
Why traditions work – You are engaging with consumer’s emotions and desires. Consumers become invested in the brand on a personal level. In the case of Chick-fil-A, Cow Appreciation Day is about humor and fun. Chick-fil-A promoted the event at their stores, through social media, and via mass media. It was easy for consumers to learn that dressing like a cow would earn them a free meal. Cow Appreciation Day provides consumers with a great value and a lot of entertainment. Fun and engaging traditions are rewarding for loyal customers who understand and identify with your brand. In the case of Macy’s, people often experience nostalgic memories of watching the parade.
How to make traditions work for you – Create a relevant and timeless tradition, and it will go a long way for your brand identity. Just like all of your marketing strategies, your tradition needs to be authentic. You need to make sure the tradition is something that reaches your targeted and existing customers and gets them excited about your brand. It is a part of your brand promise. Utilize multi-channel marketing to get out the message about the tradition. It is necessary to get across the emotion at the store level so consumers relate their purchase with the event or tradition. Mark Baldwin, a Chick-fil-A spokesperson makes a great point about Cow Appreciation Day, “It’s a huge marketing initiative, but we’re not looking for it to be sales builder, per se. It’s a way to connect with our customers and thank our customers in a very fun way, of course.” Chick-fil-A really understands that this event is a great way to measure consumer passion for their brand. As long as you are willing to have patience and strategy behind building a brand tradition, it’s a great way to create loyalty.
What are some of your favorite brand traditions? How do you utilize traditions as a part of your brand identity?