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Julian Casa, General Manager at Baskin-Robbins. /Baskin-Robbins

Why digital-led strategies are vital to Baskin-Robbins' growth

From collaborations to realigning its focus, the brand continues to thrive on digital.

2017 was a turning point for Baskin-Robbins because this was the year the brand started its digital-first strategy

This change was brought by the brand’s General Manager Julian Casa, who back then was working for Baskin-Robbins as its National Marketing Manager.

Julian, after taking a few years off from the business, came back on the heels of a leadership change.

“I came back with renewed enthusiasm. At that time, things had changed in the business. I had to reassess the market. The competitor sets have changed. Gelato had become more established and Baskins had lost a bit of its relevance,” Julian told QSR Media.

This gave him an opportunity to review the brand’s marketing partners and introduce a new local brand positioning for the business that created compelling new product development for the brand. Julian then started to focus on a digital-led approach in relation to their marketing efforts to renew interest in the brand.

Following this, Baskin-Robbins experienced six years of consecutive same-store sales growth.

Julian’s strategies stemmed from his experiences from making pizzas at Silvio’s Pizza’s, to his background in marketing and working for Domino’s for almost 13 years. During that time, he oversaw new product developments and helped with franchise operations. Julian even took a stab at being a franchise owner.

“A lot of my roles were characterised by working in operations in leading QSR chains,” Julian explained. Julian said because of these experiences working with different departments, afforded him greater visibility of the business which he took with him to Baskin-Robbins.

Brand collaborations

One of the changes that Julian’s digital-led strategies brought was Baskin-Robbins doubling down on brand collaborations.

“Brand collaborations have seen a real resurgence with a lot of intermediate concepts across categories. At Baskins, we’ve been delivering a lot of partnerships in relation to the releases of movies and streaming services that enable us to reach new audiences in a playful and engaging kind of way,” Julian said.

Baskin-Robbins does this by executing a digital immersive experience for consumers. Take, for example, the brand’s collaboration with Sony Pictures with the release of Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse. 

Baskin-Robbins and Sony Pictures engaged their audience using an immersive 3D mobile experience which generated a 267% return on investment, with a 14.2% increase in year-on-year sales for Baskin-Robbins.

“This is a timely reminder of how brands can successfully leverage partnerships to attract new sales. If executed right whilst giving respect to both partners in an authentic way, it elevates the property and allows both brands to reach new audiences. And that ultimately, is what sits at the heart of collaborations,” Julian explained.

For national campaigns, Baskin-Robbins aim to have at least one or two brand collaborations.

Competition

Baskin-Robbins also had to deal with new entrants to the dessert market like gelatos.

To be clear, gelato brands are not their direct competitors, Julian said. It was when he came back to Baskin-Robbins after a brief hiatus in 2017, gelato has steadily grown in significance in the dessert category.

Julian believes that since they were a mainly suburban business, targeting families, gelatos whose target markets are mostly those in the CBD areas, may run parallel but not directly compete with them.

“They can be enjoyed at home, they can be enjoyed on the move, online and on mobile. That’s been our focus and where we want to grow our business."

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