When Kellogg’s Special K, Starbucks VIA and Target teamed up to offer a special promotion to a key demographic, the results were impressive. Brian Keefe, Senior Vice President and Scott Weller, Director of Client Solutions at Insight Promotions, LLC explain why:
“This strategic partnership reaches the status of legend. The program was wildly successful, with nearly one million units moved in the first round.”
Operationally, Starbucks provided single-serve samples of its VIA instant coffee for automated insertion into Special K cartons. By offering Target this exclusive promotion, Special K was able to drive incremental feature and display in-store.
Coordination was critical for this unique promotion—all three partners needed to agree on the promotional period and be ready for the launch. Starbucks provided the VIA samples; Special K was responsible for inserting the samples into each carton; and Target provided the display space. Insight Promotions coordinated the activities for all three and also managed the automated insertion at Kellogg’s cereal factories.
First, ‘Win the Customer.’ With the exclusive offer, Target provided incremental feature and display to win the customer.
Second, ‘Create Visibility On-Shelf.’ Special K realized measurable lift on-shelf driven by traditional as well as impulse purchasing behaviors.
Third, ‘Build Brand Affinity.’ Starbucks was able to gain brand and product awareness and generate usage through trial. It leveraged the most cost-effective way to sample.
All three companies built positive associations, linking consumers with similar demographics to strong brands throughout this well-planned promotion.
Partnering through Complementary Target Markets
Strategic partnerships can exponentially increase a market strategy’s success when the partners share complementary consumer targets. In this case, all three brands are well-received by the fitness-motivated or weight-conscious female consumer. This affinity in target market largely contributed to the campaign’s results.
In our book Tuning Into Mom, my co-author Teri Lucie Thompson and I explore a partnership between Fit4Mom, a social fitness organization for moms, and LUNA, a line of nutrition bars designed for the needs of women. These brands certainly have a significant overlap in target markets. They partnered through a club offering:
“The LUNA Moms Club is focused on helping moms of young children to be fit and active in a social way through a partnership with Stroller Strides.”
‘Partnering’ with a Habit
Partnering can also boost success when a brand pairs itself with a consumer habit or routine. In Contagious, Jonah Berger discusses the concept of triggers, cues that help customers keep certain brands top-of-mind. His most striking example was the strategy to pair Kit Kat with coffee, which resulted in the $300 million brand growing to $500 million. Berger writes:
“Coffee is a particularly good thing to link the brand to because it is a frequent stimulus in the environment. A huge number of people drink coffee. Many drink it a number of times throughout the day. And so by linking Kit Kat to coffee, [brand manager] Colleen created a trigger to remind people of the brand.”
These examples have shown that working with a strategic partner or a consumer habit can multiply the effects of market strategies and marketing campaigns. These brands carefully chose partnerships or triggers with a natural affinity for consumers, and partner brands broadened exposure to the target market beyond the reach of an individual brand. While strategic partnerships require detailed planning and coordination, the results can be more than worth the effort.