National Coffee Day: Marketing Best Practices

This much awaited holiday has been celebrated since 2005, although some suggest that the holiday originated in Japan in 1983. Regardless of its roots, the free beans are greatly appreciated by the masses. The major coffee retailers jumped at the opportunity to harness this holiday to employ creative marketing strategy.

Dunkin Donuts chose to use the holiday to shed light on their new dark roast and offered free medium cups:

McDonalds chose to extend their celebration by offering free small cups of coffee during their breakfast hours for two weeks leading up to September 29th.

Krispy Kreme encouraged office workers to leave “out of the office” messages on their emails to let their co workers know they are enjoying a (free) coffee break. Customers can enjoy a 12 oz free cup of coffee, or a mocha, latte, or iced coffee for a discounted rate of $1. Their suggested message begins by stating “Did you know that the best way to be more productive at work is to take a break? It’s true! I found it on the Internet.”

Tim Hortons took the celebrations one step further by not only offering a $1 cup of coffee, but also set up a scavenger hunt with envelopes containing “more than $9,000 in cash and gift cards”, with location clues posted to social media. The envelopes were hidden across Buffalo, Rochester (New York), Detroit, Grand Rapids (Michigan), and Columbus (Ohio).

The creative marketing strategy of the big coffee retailers highlights their commitment to not only reward consumers, but to also foster better brand recognition. For example, Dunkin Donuts’ launch of a new dark roast on a holiday will link consumer’s memory to their first free cup. McDonalds makes an effort to create a personal connection with consumers with the tagline “My coffee is your coffee”, and Krispy Kreme and Tim Hortons engage their consumers with parallel activities unrelated to physically drinking coffee.

Although the holiday seems staged to tout the coffee producer’s brand, it can serve as a lesson to content marketers across many industries. A free cup of coffee that is not glorified may not be as appreciated. The social media campaigns and conversation grab the attention of the reader, while pushing new product-all to “make Monday a little easier.”

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