How Baskin-Robbins’ approaches its marketing campaigns, according to its general manager

Julian Casa, in his first interview with QSR Media as general manager, also shares details about their growth targets for 2022 and the chain’s new store design.

From using augmented reality in promotions to virtual pop-ups via aggregators, Baskin-Robbins has found a niche in intersecting products, pop culture, marketing, digital experiences, and strategic partnerships.

Julian Casa, the chain’s general manager, summarizes it as being “compelling enough” to consumers beyond the traditional transaction piece.

“It's about having something that's memorable that you think about well after the experience itself. That's the idea we aim to deliver,” he told QSR Media.

Delivering an immersive customer experience has been a significant piece of the brand’s marketing for the past years, making headlines with past activations involving media franchises such as Hotel Transylvania, Trolls and Stranger Things.

Casa, who served as the brand’s national marketing manager for four years, teased another partnership of this kind in the coming summer - now looking to add gamification to the mix.

“We're actually working on an augmented reality game in this instance,” he said. “We're looking at trying to steal some equity there and build on the fan[dom] and the excitement that our loyal Baskin-Robbins enthusiasts have.”

But how exactly does the hard-scoop chain approach these kinds of campaigns?

“Certainly, it's about trying to understand our audience,” he said, then referring to the chain’s VIP Ambassador group that they reach out to pitch and elicit ideas.

“It could be as much as product innovation...or it could be brand partnerships that they would just really love to see Baskin-Robbins do. We certainly feel like that connection is really important to give us true insight around what our consumers are looking for.”

Aside from that, Casa noted the brand’s desire to be at the forefront of global trends and finding ways to further innovate their products - part of a three to four-year journey, he said, in re-establishing themselves.

“We are looking overseas as well as locally around the upcoming trends that are popular,” he explained. “We're also really conscious of that need for creativity. And that certainly spills out into our products.”

Looking back, Casa attributes their foray into such digital experiences when the brand was finding ways to both adopt ice cream delivery - which has since seen double-digit growth for the brand and a channel he expects is staying - and reach a larger Millennial audience.

“I think having understanding and driving and chasing a millennial audience to build that learning and ultimately deliver them something that was memorable was really at the heart of what we were trying to achieve,”  he said.

“We're not just thinking about our bricks-and-mortar business, we're not just thinking about our family market. It depends on what time of year, seasonality [and] on the particular product innovation that we've been working on. And then, we look at a particular brand partnership. We look at that audience, and we're looking at how we can make sure that we've got a full 360° approach.”

Casa is also bullish on the chain’s expansion plans for 2022, revealing plans to open 12 sites in the next 12 months, naming Sydney as a key priority whilst fortressing in QLD and WA. He also noted that the brand is experiencing double-digit comparable sales growth in the prior year. 

Sites will feature the chain’s newest store design, dubbed Flavor First.

“It's trying to leverage the intimate experiential sort of kitchens of old - that industrial stainless steel look - as well as complementing that with really warm textural tones for our guests in-store,” he shared.

A new corporate store, where they’re testing their idea of store of the future, is serving as a hub to trial new technology, digital ordering, kiosks, and “introducing new ways for our consumers to...enjoy the store experience,” Casa added. “Democratising” training for staff will also be a priority for the brand, which has been utilising online modules and workshops especially during the height of the lockdowns.

“We're obviously focused on preparation (sic) for this summer. We want to...make sure we're more accessible than ever to our consumers.”

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