Baskin-Robbins: A case study
Baskins- Robbins is the largest chain ice-cream and cake speciality shop restaurants in the world. It was found in Glendale, California by two brothers-in-law, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins in 1945. Based in Canton, Massachusetts, the company has been famous for the various flavours of ice-creams they offer, providing a variety of flavours started with its famous “31 flavours” concept with the idea that a person could have a different flavour of ice-cream, every day for a month.
The main aim of Baskin and Robbins (BR) was that customers should be able to try several flavours to discover their taste and likes which is the reason behind the existence of the infamous small pink spoons within the company. Till date, the company has introduced more than 1000 flavours across the globe, they adapted and localised their products according to the taste buds of the local market. BR is a part of Dunkin brands Inc. which also franchises Dunkin Donuts.
LOCALISATION STRATEGIES ADOPTED BY BASKIN AND ROBBINS:
- The earliest and the most famous strategy of BR is the launch of 31 flavours that were meant to last for a month for every customer (this also made the pink spoon the trademark of the company). This scheme was unique because no other ice-cream company had ever executed this idea before and to complement this the flavours within this scheme such as mint chocolate chip and cotton candy (many others) were a huge success for the company and are famous till date. Alongside this, to engage with their audiences and spread the message of inclusivity, BR started to announce the ‘flavour of the month’ as well. This scheme conveyed to the customers that their feedback was being appreciated and helped gain following for the company.
2. Around the 1960s most brands earned customer’s trust and fame by participating in fairs against their competitors so BR entered Los Angeles county fairs to gain trust and fame where they did not disappoint their old and new followers by establishing a streak of winning constantly. This streak did gain attention from the mainstream media and it worked as an indirect free promotion marketing scheme for the brand as a whole. This scheme alone was able to generate enough finance for BR to open 400 stores across America simultaneously. Alongside this, the franchise was able to pick up its pace and by the 1970s BR went international successfully.
3. Also, the sense of marketing of this franchise was broadened when it released ice-cream flavours in honour of certain celebrities like the Beatle-nut was released for when Beatles were touring in the L.A instantly in the 1960s or when Cheesecake was released to honour Neil’s Armstrong landing on the moon. These releases were one of the main reasons that the public buzz regarding the presence of this company never died. The public sentiments were strengthened and highlighted time and time again whenever BR released flavours or new products in association with famous celebrities or occasions which was never done by other brands within the ice-cream industry.
4. Before the company hit big and became an international ice-cream giant, Baskin- Robbins had to face several failures on their path of success. They had a vision for a world that had a plethora of ice-cream flavours, not only the traditional vanilla, strawberry or chocolate, but something more. This was their big idea to make it big in the world. From the very beginning, they understood the importance of localisation of their products according to the desires of the people in the vicinity. They used the ‘hit and trial’ method as their localisation tool, they introduced several flavours and not all of them took up, they had to face a lot of failures. Some famous disastrous flavours were “Ketchup ice-cream”, “Grape Britain” etc. A flavour called “Gummy Gummy Gum Drops”, was such a failure that it broke people’s teeth off.
Even after all the failures, BR managed to be known and successful worldwide because of their interactive strategies with their clients and how inclusive they have made their customers feel as they grew.
HOW DID BASKIN-ROBBINS EXPAND IN INDIA?
- BR localised within India by adapting to the cultural habits; such as using cow milk to prepare its product to suit the taste preferences of Indians. With its quick adaptability and good research, BR concluded to launch another section of products labelled under Non-dairy products. The former scheme had an immense success throughout the nation and the later was targeted towards metropolitan cities which profited the company just the same. Alongside this, BR took their diet-conscious customers into consideration and introduced low-fat milk products and gluten-free products as well as making the brand more inclusive and diverse in nature. BR has also recently announced to include low sugar products as well in the near future.
- Further, BR expanded its marketing to suit India’s culture and monetized its product in sync to certain special days such as Valentine’s Day. In India, BR had a scheme where every ice-cream flavour described a relationship according to which customers bought those ice-creams to give it to their loved ones. A similar scheme was followed for Friendships day where banana split sundae, three cheer chocolates and many more combinations of ice-creams/deserts were released during this pandemic at a discount which has turned out to be the most profitable deals for BR. These schemes not only help BR to stay updated with trends of the millennials but also helps them to diversify their products in accordance with target markets. All these schemes are heavily reliant on their social media advertisement (Instagram and Twitter) that BR has skillfully mastered through it’s short and crisp videos (which again is one of the trends that BR is updated with). To further maximise the profit, BR released a new flavour of Sima Taperia as it pounced on the success of a Netflix show ‘Indian matchmaking’ which received yet another positive feedback from the public.
3. BR broadened its niche from ice-creams to serving waffles, desserts and thick shakes in accordance to India culture of where beverages are a profitable venture alongside edibles. In 2016, as a localised approach, the company decided to offer beverages in addition to ice-creams across the 250 outlets, following a collaboration with Manpasand Beverages, a fruit juice organisation. The duo entered into a tie-up whereby Manpasand’s famous “Fruit Up” and mango based beverage, “ Mango Sip” retailed at Baskin Robbins outlets across India. Also, since Dunkin Donuts and BR are owned by the Dunkin brand Inc, often these two stores are placed next to each other in many locations to increase the customer appeal because of the easy accessibility of both beverages and sweet edibles.
4. Innovation has been the biggest strategy of BR. With 1200 unique flavours of ice-cream releases, BR was easily able to rise above their competitors who at the time were serving variations of simple ice cream flavour such as vanilla and chocolates. It would be relevant to say that BR was ahead of its time when it was releasing new flavours constantly, so it became almost impossible for other companies (like Dairy Queen) to keep up with the speed of BR and also with its diversification to include beverages, cakes and yoghurts.
Baskin-Robbins had no big strategies for localisation, they started from the Grass root level of localisation, they interacted with their customers and took constructive feedback. As years went by, they learned that their biggest tool for success is ‘Dynamic Adaptation’, hence brick by brick they built an empire all over the world and became one of the most successful ice-cream companies in the world.
By Geetanjali Mehta
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