On A Roll1 Oct, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
You can't walk through a shopping mall and avoid being stopped in your tracks by the mesmerizing smell of those warm, gooey cinnamon rolls that have made franchiser Cinnabon a success for the past 25 years. And the company has a lot to celebrate during its silver anniversary.
Despite a difficult fourth-quarter 2008, with economic woes lasting into 2009, and which produced low if any profit for many retailers — especially ones where half the battle is getting consumers to enter a shopping mall to spend money — Cinnabon reported great success with a targeted marketing campaign that it created with direct response partner Money Mailer.
Leading the retail migration in the United States to infuse more digital advertising into multi-media campaigns, Cinnabon has come a long way from its original — and to date, still its best marketing — the aroma of baking Cinnabons. The company, basically known for its eponymous product, relies heavily on "people walking by, smelling us and then eating some," says Geoff Hill, president of Cinnabon.
However, there is a negative to only being known for the "greatest Cinnabon in the world," and that issue is that the brand is basically considered a one-trick pony. According to Hill: you've got one product that has to be purchased in a shopping mall, and baked goods are best eaten hot, immediately after you purchase them.
The worldwide leader in cinnamon rolls is only located in enclosed malls, travel plazas, airports and universities. The best part about Cinnabon's locations, according to Hill, is that the franchise is viewed as bigger than it actually is, since a consumer can hardly visit an airport around the world, or a shopping mall around the United States for that matter, and not find a Cinnabon. "People think we have 40,000 units, but we only have 700 around the world," says Hill. The negative about the retailer's locations is that it relies heavily on consumers traveling and shopping, both activities that started slowing down in summer 2008. When the market began to turn, Hill and the company's marketing team needed to find an innovative way to get people to buy the product.
So in order to gear up for the retailer's ever-important holiday season — Jollybon, as the company refers to the months of November through early January — Cinnabon needed to start thinking outside the box to get customers purchasing. Four years ago, Cinnabon was bought by parent company FOCUS Brands Inc. — owner of Carvel, Schlotzsky's Deli and Moe's Southwest Grill — which had other franchises working with Money Mailer. Hill came on board as president about a year after the purchase. Therefore, Cinnabon was able to easily connect and begin brainstorming with the Money Mailer team on how to get more customers into the mall and spending money.
So the next thought progression by the teams was to target employees on their lunch hours or on their way home from work. According to Melissa Chyba, vice president of national sales for Money Mailer, the offer had to be good enough to get employees into their cars and make a separate trip to pick up Cinnabon, rather than just happen upon it.