Viral sampling program expands social presence

Snack Factory’s 6-year-old Pretzel Crisps brand had only a tiny presence on Facebook with just 800 “likes” when Jason Harty, director of field and interactive marketing, came aboard in June 2010. While that number increased to 1,800 nine months later, Harty wanted to experiment with a variety of strategies, including social sampling on Twitter, to help lure new customers to the brand.

Looking to spur trial and attract new customers, Pretzel Crisps decided to undertake a coupon program via Facebook.

Pretzel Crisps wanted more Facebook fans and to drive customer trial.

“We wanted to attract people who hadn’t tried us and then we also wanted to acquire Facebook fans,” Harty told eMarketer. “Our social media strategy is to unite fans of our brand.”

Pretzel Crisps, in partnership with Buddy Media, introduced a $1 off coupon on Facebook in late February. Over a two-week period, it saw fans increase from 6,800 to 13,700. In mid-March, the brand segued from the $1 off coupon to a buy one, get one free coupon, which it made available for two weeks. However, when it changed the offer on Facebook, it didn’t tell anyone about the buy one, get one promotion, wanting to see whether the offer would spread virally without promotion, advertising, status updates or PR. Each coupon offer was good for three months.

Within 36 hours of posting the new offer to its Facebook page, Pretzel Crisps doubled its Facebook fan base from 14,000 to 29,000. As of early August 2011, the brand had 62,437 fans.

Pretzel Crisps achieved an 87% redemption rate on the $1 off coupon offer and a 95% redemption rate on the buy one, get one free offer. “These were very high redemption rates,” Harty said, attributing them not only to a passionate fan base but to the value of the offers.

“The offers were attractive. They also tapped into the extreme couponing behavior we’ve seen.”

—Jason Harty, Snack Factory’s director of field and interactive marketing

According to IRI data, Pretzel Crisp sales grew 93% for the 52-week period ending July 10, 2011, vs. the same period the previous year. For the 12-week period ending July 10, the brand experienced 131% growth.

Key Takeaways
Pretzel Crisps gained fans through the coupon program and attracted new customers to the brand.

“Offering something with tangible value, like a coupon, helped us double our Facebook fan base,” Harty said.

While people came for the coupon, he believes they’ll stay for the community, which offers recipes and pairing ideas, interesting content and dialogue.

Next Steps
Pretzel Crisps is weighing another Facebook couponing program as it ramps up to introduce two new flavors—Jalapeno Jack and Chipotle Cheddar—in September. But “we don’t want to use coupons as a crutch,” Harty said. “We have a lot of in-store price promotion, too.”

“Offering something with tangible value, like a coupon, helped us double our Facebook fan base.”

—Jason Harty

Pretzel Crisps also plans to deploy more social sampling via Twitter using dedicated field reps who will post and respond to tweets in five markets—Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Orange County, Calif. and San Francisco. “We want to be a catalyst for conversation and to have someone turn around and tell 10 friends about us,” Harty said.

SOURCE eMarketer

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