Krispy Kreme is a doughnut shop.
They have been selling doughnuts and coffee since 1937. They started down the road from Bright Planning–2 hours away, in Old Salem, an historically-preserved city section of Winston-Salem. Now they sell gourmet doughnuts, specialty coffee drinks, and juices.
They have a bowtie logo with red and green lettering you can see from a long distance. Their branding has barely changed since its creation in the 1950s.
They have a dedicated, massive following that is on the scale of the Pepsi vs. Coke brand ambassadors. They dominate the Southeast market share.
You don’t see a lot of billboards for Krispy Kreme and they don’t do a lot of commercials–unlike Dunkin’ Donuts, whose “America Runs on Dunkin'” campaign is spotted across media outlets far and wide.
So what do they do that is so successful? A doughnut and a cup of coffee doesn’t give someone a lot of profit in a franchise.
Krispy Kreme markets outside of their shops as much as possible.
The company didn’t build a “outside versus inside” marketing strategy. They integrated an important principle of their business into marketing strategy and use it constantly: community. Dunkin’ Donuts does this as well, strengthening their New England market share. But Krispy Kreme uses different marketing tactics.
They don’t always wait for the community and the customers to come to them. They go to where their potential customers are. They market with a movement outward, not simply setting up shop and saying “that’s that” and running an ad in the paper.
Their marketing strategy achieves the crucial triangle of “Message, Market, Moment.” It also reflects a classic hustle mentality that every business owner needs to tap into:
1. They network. (Market)
They set up shop in a geographic location, then they immediately go to every gas station and coffee shop and general store in that area and get them to sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Think about how your business–whether service or retail–goes beyond its own brick and mortar location and taps into networking with complementary businesses.
Doughnuts go together with: grocery stores, general stores, breakfast food trucks and carts, gas stations, office meeting rooms, corporate kitchens, break rooms, coffee shops, teacher lounges, waiting areas, family homes, shared apartments, road trip vehicles, and more.
2. They build themselves into fundraising efforts. (Message)
Since 1955, they’ve created special business orders for churches, schools, and organizations who–by selling doughnuts for mere cents–could raise serious money for their own needs. Who didn’t want to buy a 25 cent doughnut in the morning to go with some coffee and give to a good cause? Every single part of the strategy felt natural. It made sense.
And it built loyalty by visibly associating the brand with social good and community foundations. While most businesses stay behind the curtain with a press release about nonprofit donations or scholarships, Krispy Kreme’s boxes of doughnuts were spread across church counters, fundraising tables, and walked through the school halls, advertised for sale.
3. They clearly announce the optimal time to purchase from them. (Moment)
The Krispy Kreme “Hot Now” sign lights up whenever a fresh batch of doughnuts have been put out in the cases. Customers who drive by clearly know that if they buy doughnuts at that time–whether it’s 7am or 7pm–they’re going to get a fresh, delicious treat.
The company has also created the “Hot Now” smartphone app so customers on the go will know when doughnuts are ready just for them.