Monday, November 7, 2016

Birthday Cakes, Candy Corn, and Peeps— A Few “Sweet” Questions to ask your Marketing Advisor

Last week, I celebrated my birthday, which always includes a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake. I do mean specifically the vanilla ice cream/chocolate ice cream/chocolate fudge and crunchy candy combination cake, NOT to be confused with Dairy Queen Blizzard® Cakes, Coldstone Ice Cream Cakes, Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes, or any other ice cream cake creations. As I enjoyed my cake with my family (with the occasional interruption from trick-or-treaters), I thought to myself “why do we have birthday cakes?” (Answer: The general consensus is that the concept of celebrating birthdays began as a way for the Egyptians to honor the day a pharaoh was crowned and thus transformed into a god. Eventually, birthday celebrations were extended to the wealthy and famous, who could afford sweet and sugary cakes. Due to the industrial revolution, birthday cakes became mass produced and affordable for everyday folks.

This thought turned into a string of similar inquiries:

  1. Why is candy corn associated with Halloween? (Answer: I have no idea. While I was able to find some fun facts about the history of candy corn (example: candy corn was originally called “Chicken Feed”), my limited research did not uncover a specific connection between candy corn and Halloween. 
  2. Why are Peeps and jelly beans associated with Easter? (Answer: I don’t know. Again, though I tracked down some interesting facts about Peeps and jelly beans , the connection was tenuous for jelly beans—they look like eggs, which are associated with Easter because they symbolize new life—and nonexistent for Peeps.
While the ties of the above mentioned treats to their respective holidays may be unsettled, the lesson to be learned is concrete—marketing strategy matters. Often, and understandably, emerging companies focus on brand awareness. However, a company’s marketing efforts cannot stop there. As business owners select their marketing advisors, they should inquire about the marketing strategies that produce the results mentioned above. Ask your marketing advisor what marketing strategies you should pursue to make your product as integral as birthday cake is to a birthday celebration.  

In the end, it doesn’t actually matter why candy corn is associated with Halloween or why Peeps are associated with Easter. All that matters is that over 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced a year (over 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced every year), and about 5.5 million Peeps are made each day. On my birthday I want a DQ Ice Cream Cake, and savvy marketing folks developed and implemented strategies to make all of the above food/holiday associations commonplace.

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