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Cumberland Farms shares taste of victory in coffee wars on mobile

The convenience store chain’s offer invites consumers to text See4Yourself to 33733 for a free coffee and the opportunity to see why it says that half of Dunkin’ Donuts’ own coffee drinkers determined that Cumberland Farms Farmhouse Blend coffee tasted just as good as Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend coffee. The email campaign is an example of leveraging mobile to build support for a position already taken following market testing.

“First off, everyone likes free,” said Jeff Hasen, founder and CEO of Gotta Mobilize, a Seattle marketing consulting firm. “Pre-recession, during recession and post-recession, deals move people to act.

“We saw that even during the Polar Vortex when a quick-service restaurant got folks to leave the warmth of their home or office for free product.

“Coffee and SMS offers have been around for years,” he said. “As far back as six years ago, a coffee house offered a 2 for 1 coupon via text. That campaign worked well since recipients brought friends or family members and many stayed for pastries and other products that drove sales.”

A representative for Dunkin’ Donuts could not be reached for comment.

Double blind test
The results are based on an independent, double blind taste test of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee drinkers in four major markets where both Cumberland Farms and Dunkin’ Donuts stores are located.

The taste test was conducted in November in accord with the American Society for Testing and Materials Claim Testing Guidelines.

Taking on Dunkin’ Donuts.

Selected study participants purchased brewed coffee away from home, most often at Dunkin’ Donuts. The taste test compared Cumberland Farms Farmhouse Blend coffee to Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend coffee.

Cumberland Farms, a gasoline, convenience, and coffee retailer, said the results revealed that half of Dunkin’ Donuts’ own coffee drinkers determined that Cumberland Farms Farmhouse Blend coffee tasted just as good as Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend coffee.

In total, half of the respondents either preferred the taste of Cumberland Farms or had no preference.

“[At just 99 cents any size,] Cumberland Farms believes that their Farmhouse Blend coffee has both great value and great taste and wanted to demonstrate that it tasted just as good as Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,” said Will Clark, account specialist for Warner Communications, a Cumberland Farms public relations firm.

Cumberland Farms is sharing the taste test results in an advertising campaign, which kicked off Sunday. Produced by Boston-based advertising agency Full Contact, the campaign includes TV spots that highlight consumers trying both brands of coffee, radio commercials, and billboards.

One part of the campaign is an email from Cumberland Farms with the subject heading, Try Cumberland Farms Coffee for FREE. The email includes a mobile-optimized YouTube video describing the taste test.

Texting about Cumberland Farms’ coffee.

The email is an attempt to capitalize on how mobile users increasingly consume video from their devices and share content with friends.

While video is undeniably everywhere, whether used for entertainment, social interaction or marketing and resonates in users’ minds longer than static content, mobile email opens appear to be plateauing.

Less than half of emails were opened on a mobile device in November, down from last year when the rate topped 50 percent, according to new data from Return Path. 

The findings suggest that consumers are continuing to engage in multi-screen use of email and not necessarily embracing mobile exclusively to read emails. The key takeaway for email marketers is that they need to continue to create campaigns for a multitude of devices.

Framingham, MA-based Cumberland Farms, which operates about 600 stores in the Northeastern United States and in Florida, is becoming adept at leveraging mobile to drive engagement with its brand.

Mobile payments
This summer, it extended a version of its mobile-payment system with added perks for businesses to use in managing costs for their vehicle fleets.

The SmartPay Check-Link Business payment program — available in either a payment card or a mobile app — enabled business owners to save 10 cents on every gallon of gas they buy for their fleet of vehicles. It was similar to the retailer’s SmartPay Check-Link program for consumers that launched in January 2013.

Brewing up loyalty?

“Cumberland Farms is smart to include a text call-to-action on traditional media and elsewhere,” Mr. Hasen said. “The brand will graduate with honors if it makes this more than a one-off by building and nurturing a loyalty club that will result in return business and loyalty.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.