Krispy Kreme looks to reinvigorate brand as sugar war rages

Krispy Kreme has firmly set its sights on millennial audiences as it hopes to improve its brand awareness and reputation amid growing concerns over sugar intake.

Krispy Kreme

The doughnut brand has tasked boutique agency DeVries SLAM with raising its profile throughout the UK, as competition heats up in the sweet treat arena.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Krispy Kreme’s marketing manager Alison Reeves said the brand needs to enhance its reputation.

“We’ve been in the UK since 2003, so we’re quite longstanding as a brand. There are lots of competitors coming in all the time, so it was important to reinvigorate what we’re about,” she said.

“We appreciate that doughnuts aren’t an everyday purchase. We celebrate special occasions like birthdays and weddings, where it’s all about sharing. We’re a doughnut brand, so we don’t take ourselves hugely seriously. We see ourselves as a treat, so it’s about being fun and light-hearted,” she said.

The brand is particularly keen on getting a slice of the millennial market, and then driving a long-term relationship so when they start families they will already be familiar with the brand.

“Millennials are one of our target groups, who we like to call ‘smart snackers’. They want to grab a snack and go, and they’re a big market for us. By focusing on millennials, we can then build on that relationship to take the brand through the years,” she said.

The sugar debate

This year, sugar has received a lot of negative media attention, with Tesco removing various sugary drinks from its range. But Krispy Kreme, which has 500 concessions within Tesco, seems unfazed by these developments.

“As far as I’m aware, that’s not a conversation that we’ve had with the retailer [Tesco]. They’ve got their own bakery products that have sugar in them. As much as they can cut sugar from their range, it’s still going to be something that people will crave as a treat,” she said.

“We don’t hide anything, in store we have the calorie content on display. We don’t actively market to children, but equally we understand that they might want a doughnut. It is about sharing and moderation. We don’t expect everyone to have a doughnut once a day,” she said.

An awareness boost

Krispy Kreme does need to improve its performance when it comes to awareness, according to YouGov BrandIndex figures. They show the brand at the bottom of the overall Index rankings, a measure of a range of metrics including quality, value and impression, compared to 24 competitors.

However it has seen statistically significant improvements in the past year across metrics such as quality and value.

To build on that momentum, more holiday-driven promotions are in the pipeline, with a Halloween experiential campaign set for launch in the second week of October.

“Being an American brand, we like to tap into Halloween, as it’s getting bigger here in the UK. We want to see ourselves owning that arena,” Reeves said.

The brand will also increasingly focus on its shareable wedding products, which customers are able buy online using the brand’s new e-commerce site.

“We’re going to focus more on the doughnut towers during Q4 of this year, when the wedding shows come up. This September/October time, we’ll be doing a big expansion on wedding press, which isn’t something you might expect from us,” she said.

Expansion ahead

Krispy Kreme’s old agency MC2 is still in charge of its new store-opening programme, and Reeves said it is hoping to build on the brand’s existing 670 locations in the UK – 55 of which are standalone stores.

It has a “big expansion programme” for the coming years, with six more stores opening in the next months, varying from its “hot-light stores” which produce donuts to its “box stores” – the name it gives its coffee shops.

As the number of Krispy Kreme stores increases, its product range will also expand.

“We are a doughnut brand, so we’ll stay within the drink and doughnuts arena. But drinks are a very big push for us, and SLAM will help us raise that awareness.

“For example, we have big plans for our coffee that we don’t think enough people know about,” she added.