ZERO Advertising Cost in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts? NO!

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is famous for the fact that they don’t establish any commercial advertising like TV or radio. They have depended on buzz marketing with serving free bite-size sample doughnuts to customers who are waiting to order. It’s true that this promotion strategy has contributed to build a powerful buzz among customers. But this strategy has a fatal defect – it can not appeal to a large number of potential customers. It can be a serious problem when the company tries to enter new market, especially a foreign country. Now, how does Krispy Kreme make Korean customers go crazy for their original glazed doughnuts and stand in line for an hour to get it?

Cinnabon, a bakery desert franchise, tried to enter the Korean market in 2001, but finally they withdrew their stores from Korea because of poor sales. Letting this be a good lesson, Krispy Kreme tried to appeal to Korean taste. When they decided to make inroads into the Korean market, buzz started to spread within the young generation from students who had been studying abroad who tasted the HOT doughnuts in the Krispy Kreme doughnut stores. But they needed to get potential customers’ attention in Korea.

Unlike the ZERO advertising cost strategy conducted in the US, Krispy Kreme Korea uses an indirect advertising concept. They want to let potential customers know about their sweet hot doughnuts. So they distribute their doughnuts among university towns and offices. Promotional activities were also hot buzz on its own and created mass attention among Korean people. Krispy Kreme Korea also has concentrated on volunteer activities and even sponsored an anti-obesity campaign. Although Krispy Kreme is an American brand, they try to instill positive images in Korean customers by contributing to Korean society.

Because Dunkin Donuts has occupied almost the entire doughnut industry without any other competitors, the Korean doughnut market is really attractive to Krispy Kreme. Moreover, Korean people who are tired of Dunkin Donuts want a fresher doughnut. Now, Krispy Kreme Korea tries to develop new well-being menus for the Korean taste like green-tea doughnuts and orange doughnuts among others. At the same time, they highlight the fact that they use sunflower seed oil. It was the first attempt among all international Krispy Kreme Doughnut stores in the world. Because nowadays Korea is very weary of junk food, Krispy Kreme intended to draw Korean attention with providing a healthier product.

If Krispy Kreme Korea kept the same marketing concept that they have in the United States, depending on just buzz marketing without any promotion activities or advertising, they would have been buried like Cinnabon in Korea. The winner in rapidly changing international markets is a company with a flexible strategic concept. Whenever I get an original glazed doughnut in Korea, I appreciate the flexible word-of-mouth marketing concepts behind it.