Apr 14 2010

In-N-Out Nation

A while ago I had the pleasure to listen to Brian Parsley, President of WeSkill, give a great presentation on business strategies.  Under the topic of customer service, Parsley spoke of wanting an In-N-Out burger while traveling on business.  Not having a GPS unit, Parsley called In-N-Out’s customer service hotline, where he spoke to a representative who helped direct him to an In-N-Out.  

This example raises several questions. First, how many people do you know who would call a hotline to help them find a fast food burger joint? Second, how many fast food burger joint’s hotlines would have representatives willing to help a lost consumer find the nearest burger joint?  The answer to both questions is probably, “Not many.”  This story doubles as a great example of providing excellent customer service and of displaying significant brand loyalty. 

The publisher of Stacy Perman’s book, In-N-Out: A Behind-The-Counter Look At The Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All The Rules, wrote that “Over time, In-N-Out Burger has become nothing less than a cultural institution that can lay claim to an insanely loyal following.”  To demonstrate the aurora of loyalty that surrounds In-N-Out, in a blog posted yesterday by blogger Nacy Luna titled, In-N-Out Burger Raises Menu Prices, has already generated 191 comments.  A critical reader would expect mostly negative posts.  However, many where is favor of In-N-Out. 

BeachBumBob wrote: I will always pay more if I know that the quality of standards are still the same or higher. When it comes to helping In-N-Out stay in business I don’t mind.

 Christina wrote: In order to keep your business in business, raising prices is sometimes the answer…. let me just also say, that IN N OUT is still going to be the cheapest place ever to get an awesome burger, fries and a shake…. so seriously, its not a negative, its a positive for them…. how would you feel if there was no more IN N OUT….I would cry!

 Talk about brand loyalty, “helping In-N-Out” and “I would cry.”  How many of your consumers would say that about your company or product?  In-N-Out is raising prices in an industry that relies heavily on loss leading “Dollar Menus” to entice consumers, and consumers are okay, even supportive. 

So what is In-N-Out’s secret?  A good place to start may be their consistently exceptional service providing quality products all at a reasonable price.  

Links: www.brianparsley.com/

www.powells.com/biblio/9780061346712

fastfood.freedomblogging.com/2010/04/13/in-n-out-burger-raises-menu-prices/58221/


Apr 7 2010

AD Week Article: The Marketing Grades for 2009

The recession was a brutal test for brands last year. A recap of a few who managed to get an A, such as Johnnie Walker, who is applying what undergrad taught us all, that “drinking is cheaper at home”

Read the article at http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/community/columns/other-columns/e3i6914f3194e3fb193b9c23e969bf4d556


Apr 2 2010

Whose Loyalty is the Weakest: Consumer, Advertiser, or Investor Loyalty

Part of loyalty includes remaining faithful even when it may be disadvantageous. For instance, a loyal friend of yours may say “Don’t worry, I have your back,” meaning that your friend will, symbolically or even literally, make sure that you do not get blind sided. Regardless of what direction you are heading, a loyal friend will support you.

Recently, Google defied the Chinese governments desire to censor all internet activity by rerouting its Chinese search engine through Hong Kong to bypass the Chinese “Great Firewall”. A China Daily article titled, “Google’s Exit Is Not Exactly A Windfall Foe Baidu” by Wang Xing, discusses consumers and advertisers reactions to this event.

Not surprisingly, “many of the company’s domestic partners and advertisers were scared away on fears that Google’s sour relationship with the government might impact them.” Investors also shied away from Google. Fearing Google’s ability to earn revenue from China investor’s sold their shares. Google’s stock price ultimately dropped by about 9%. Granted Google’s stock price has bounced back, it is still below its pre-China ordeal price.

But consumer have stayed loyal to Google. “Figures from Alexa [Internet] show that most of the traffic from Google.cn has been picked up by Google.com.hk, of which user visits surged 2,056 percent over the past week.”

How loyal are your customers, your investors, and your advertisers or suppliers? Would they risk government repercussions to remain loyal to your business? Would they support your business during rough times? If not, what steps are you taking right now to build their loyalty?

Link: www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2010-04/02/content_9680226.htm