Kum & Go Gets Warm & Fuzzy

Coffee promotion highlights chain's social-media savvy

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- For Mike Templeton, Kum & Go LC's social media manager, overseeing the company's website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and foursquare venue is a 24/7 job. His morning begins with a review of the various social-media outlets and gains momentum from there.

The company approaches these efforts by asking one question: "What would our customers find interesting today?" "Whatever is relevant to our customers is relevant to us," Templeton told CSP Daily News. "That's the compass we use to guide ourselves with social media."

(For more on Kum & Go, see the January issue of CSP magazine.)

One recent example is Kum & Go's Warm & Fuzzy coffee promotion, which debuted in September 2011 and ran through the fall. Kum & Go wanted to target 18- to 34-year-olds, or millennials, so it developed two furry "spokescharacters"--"Warm" and "Fuzzy"--who would have their own website and were available for purchase as stuffed animals. In its research, the chain learned that millennials like to be involved in charitable causes, so Kum & Go approached Toys for Tots to partner with them on the coffee campaign, in exchange for a 10-cent donation per 20- or 24-ounce cup of coffee sold.

Warm & Fuzzy were also designed to have an edge, so promotions were updated on Kum & Go's Facebook page and Twitter feed and advertised on Pandora web radio and the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program. The promotion also had its own web page, which features biographies and videos of the Warm & Fuzzy characters and links to their social media activities.

The company also designed a mobile app that let users take their picture with the characters and post them on Facebook to "unlock" a discount--anything from $1 off a roller-grill item or breakfast sandwich to a five-cents-per-gallon discount on gasoline.

As of press time, donations from the Warm & Fuzzy campaign had raised more than $164,000.

Dennis Folden, COO of Kum & Go, pointed out how much fun customers and store associates had with the promotion. For example, at a Wyoming Kum & Go, the general manager took pictures of the Warm & Fuzzy figures making snow angels outside the store.

"We want to make sure customers also are having fun," said Folden. It is, he said, "about getting the relationship back with that customer beyond simply a discount, because in this program, there are no discounts. Yet we're growing share of larger sizes." As of press time, the chain had hit its sales goal for the promotion and was "in the hunt" on the unit target.

While the Warm & Fuzzy promotion exceeded expectations, it is not Kum & Go's first or only social-media success. The retailer's Facebook page has more than 16,000 followers, many of whom are highly engaged.

"Photos are the best part of Facebook," said Templeton. "Over the years, Kum & Go has had fun with customers snapping photos at their favorite stores." He cited one customer photo of a Kum & Go fountain-drink cup that was wearing sunglasses and buckled in the front seat of a car. The caption read: "I never go anywhere without my Diet Coke from store No. 0842." Another customer live-tweeted his overnight stakeout for a new Kum & Go store opening. He provided hourly updates and commentary from people passing by.

It requires Kum & Go, however, to keep on top of the conversation.

"The most interesting piece about it is you can be genuine and communicate with your customers one on one," said Folden. "If you're pre-scripting social media, you're on the wrong path."