retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Advertising Age has an interview with Dwayne Chambers, senior VP-CMO at Krispy Kreme, in which he describes the company’s current strategy for supporting the brand. Some excerpts:

• “What was word-of-mouth in 2000 has really become social media today. If we have 1,000 people who love your brand in 2000, they could tell two people who could tell two people who could tell two people. Today, if you have 1,000 who love your brand, they could immediately tell 100,000 people who could tell 100,000. We're in the fortunate position to be a brand that people love. It will play more of a part now. The ability for us to connect with our team members and guests in the store is important. We're going to continue to spend as much as 50% of time and effort internally turning every team member we have into a brand marketer.”

• “We're definitely continuing, from a global standpoint, to expand. We have nearly 650 stores in 21 countries. Almost two-thirds of those are international. It's interesting to watch the expansion internationally, because there are some components that are much like what people saw here in that there's this incredible excitement. But it's not just about something being new -- there's definitely some excitement about Americana, and Krispy Kreme has a very Americana image that people grasp onto like they do Coke and Disney.”

• “Ultimately our message has continued to be that we don't expect people to be in Krispy Kreme every day. What we've heard from our guests is that when they come to Krispy Kreme, it is a treat for them, and they understand that. But we're also offering up and testing a few things to see if there are other items our guests want to engage in. We just recently in our Philadelphia store started offering some alternative items -- yogurt, oatmeal, Naked juices, soy milk. We haven't seen the final results, but they seem to be accepted by our team and our guests.”
KC's View:
There are few companies that squandered their brand equity as badly as Krispy Kreme did - moving from a company that offered a differentiated and highly valued product to one that was virtually a commodity, with closed stores all over the country. It happened because it over-expanded, putting its doughnuts everywhere and not focusing on quality. (The Atkins craze didn’t help, either.)

They may be able to maintain that illusion overseas, but I fear that here in the US, it will never regain its patina of old.