Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bringing the Brand Home to the Consumer

To really connect with customers on a personal level, you can bring the event directly to their home. That's just what Purina did recently, hosting 1,000 "house parties" where individuals, their friends and pet dogs got together so the dogs could sample the Chef Michaels' K9 Creations line of dog food.

"It was our first dual-species event," joked Kitty Holding, CEO of House Party, which organized the Purina events and specializes in consumer-hosted in-home parties. "House parties are all about passionate consumers, and it's tough to find something that people get more passionate about than their pets."
For these "Sunday Supper" events, House Party conducted an initial promotion to get a list of qualified hosts together, reaching out to its own mailing list and the client's until it had 1,000 individuals that fit what Purina was looking for (in this case, women dog owners).

Once they settled on the list of hosts, House Party created an interactive website for the three weeks or so leading up to the event, where hosts could get suggestions for how to host the party, what games to play and food to make (for the people). "We want to give people lots of ideas and suggestions, but we want people to have the kind of party they are good at having," said Holding. "Consumers are so savvy anyway, and if you're going to have a party with your friends, you don't want me to tell you how to have your party."

For the event itself, each host invited 12 friends and their dogs over, and used the promotional products and supplies provided by Purina. Besides the Chef Michaels food itself, hosts received branded serving plates, tablecloths, napkins and even food-shaping tins that could put the dog food into a bone or a heart. Every guest received a gift bag that included coupons, recipe books and other goodies.

There were a total of 12,000 human participants, and 7,500 canine participants, with what House Party calculates to be over 50,000 hours of brand engagement (from the humans, that is). The events also greatly boosted the brand metrics, which House Party measures, including awareness, favorability and intent to purchase.

"It becomes a really personal, intimate experience with the brand," said Holding. "That experience last so much longer, so that when they are at a critical moment of purchase or recommendation, that favorable view is really cemented in their mind."
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