“Social media is becoming increasingly pervasive and perpetuating a question of how to link a company’s social media presence with real-world sales and profitability,” says Dan Beem, president of Cold Stone Creamery. “We saw an opportunity to engage Cold Stone’s loyal customer base and social media following to drive a measurable impact on in-store sales. Our strategy for profitability continues to include innovation across the entire brand, whether that’s a creative new ice cream product or a cutting-edge social media solution.”
According to research firm Inside Network Inc., the U.S. market for virtual goods is estimated at $1.6 billion. Social networking sites account for approximately half the total market for virtual goods—twice as much as one year ago.
Unlike traditional virtual gifting, Cold Stone’s eGift application allows users to send a code for a tangible gift to any recipient’s Facebook or e-mail, instantly redeemable in any of Cold Stone’s 1,300 locations nationwide. The application, developed by e-commerce and payment processing industry provider First Data Corporation, facilitates an intuitive and secure transaction process through First Data’s proprietary technology.
Cold Stone is among the first brands leveraging this trend, linking its social media presence with concrete consumer behavior to increase profitability.
“By addressing the limits of other competitive offerings and leveraging the equity of a much-loved, well-known brand such as Cold Stone, we’re making it easier for individuals to connect and make their social media interactions more relevant in the concrete world,” Beem says.
The launch is part of Cold Stone Creamery’s strategy to drive unit-level sales and increase franchisee profitability. In addition to Cold Stone’s eGift program, the company recently rolled out its calendar of new product innovation to drive unit-level traffic and sales. The company also announced continued strategic partnerships and successful results of its cobranding initiatives with Tim Hortons and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.