I grew up in the town famous for free ice water and five cent coffee. You guessed it – Wall, South Dakota, home of Hustead’s Wall Drug Store. Wall Drug offers a mechanical T-Rex and a singing Cowboy Band but those are secondary. Wall Drug engages its consumers by giving them that at-home feel. Families can dine in the store’s restaurant and talk without technological distractions such as televisions on the wall or computers in their laps. The owners mingle around, chatting with their customers about their experiences in the store. Wall Drug maintains consumer engagement by using each customer as their inspiration.
Like Wall Drug, others in the restaurant industry are discovering new ways to engage customers and enhance their in store experience. Starbucks has recently launched a new digital network offering books, movies, news, and more for use on laptops, tablets or smart phones. The network was inspired by the consumer.
Another great example is Einstein Bros Bagels. In January of 2010, the bagel franchise launched a Facebook campaign. If a consumer became a fan of their Facebook page, they automatically received a free bagel. Their fan base went from 4,700 to more than 378,000, according to Zak Stambor of Internet Retailer magazine. The brand wanted to utilize social media to connect with their consumers and gain inspiration through dialogue.
Taco Johns has also jumped on the idea of utilizing consumer inspiration. The quick-service Mexican restaurant recently launched it’s My Town, My Taco John’s campaign. The idea was developed from the fact that Taco Johns feels like a part of the consumer’s hometown communities. My Town Mania, a digital loyalty program, incorporates hometown personalities while consumers have the chance to earn free food and other rewards. The program currently has over 30,420 maniacs and has given out more than 5,300 rewards.
I still find it shocking that coffee costs more than just five cents and water is not free everywhere. But, it’s more than just five cent coffee. Consumers want to have a relationship with the brands and products in their lives. They want to feel valued. Building brand loyalty and engaging in the consumer’s needs will keep them refilling that coffee cup.