How To Launch A Cult Hit With Hotel Chocolat
The Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser is a cult hit.
Coming onto the scene amidst a buzz of user-generated social content, the Velvetiser is quickly becoming the way to make hot chocolate.
But how did Hotel Chocolat create such a successful launch? Sarah from the marketing team chatted to us about the plan for marketing the Velvetiser, sharing her top tips for getting a new product off the ground.
It’s all in the name
Your product’s name can be a valuable marketing tool, so dedicate some time to getting it right.
Think about your brand and the kind of image you’re putting out there. Are you going after luxury? Convenience? A younger market? What kind of words will resonate with this?
It’s also worth considering how the name can be used. Hoover was originally a product, but the word became synonymous with vacuuming your house. Hotel Chocolat wants to do the same with ‘velvetise’.
At the same time, “velvetiser” evokes a feeling that Hotel Chocolat capitalised on as part of its marketing campaign.
create an experience
Don’t just create a product. Build an experience that can become a key part of your customers’ lives.
What extras can you create to help your customers use the product? It could be content or even additional supporting products.
To go with the Velvetisers, Hotel Chocolat created the perfect hot chocolate to use along with specially engineered cups that are the exact right size for a velvetised drink. They also send new customers a magazine with loads of Velvetiser info, including recipes and usage tips.
All of this works together to prove the value to customers and make the Velvetiser a joyful part of their routine.
Go to your loyal customers first
If you’re launching something new, start with your biggest fans.
You might have a loyalty programme, mailing list or even database of top customers. Releasing your product to your loyalists first will make them feel special. Plus, as they already love your brand, they’re more likely to buy.
Hotel Chocolat focused on owned and earned channels during the first couple of years after the Velvetiser’s launch. Leveraging their VIPs and strong social following, the Velvetiser quickly became a cult hit, generating even more buzz from the community.
maximise all your channels
Create noise for your product everywhere you can.
Make content to support your product. Use packaging to get your message across. Shout about it in-store (if you have physical stores).
Pick your channels wisely to best showcase your product and marketing creative. Hotel Chocolat’s Velvetiser campaign focused on the sumptuousness of the word. Because of this, radio was a great option to drive awareness as they could lean into the ASMR vibes.
Don’t forget to make the most of user-generated content (UGC). Thank the creators, feature them on your stories, and use UGC in other marketing materials. It shows the following for your product is authentic and will help potential customers see how it could fit into their lives.
Run offers carefully
Find the balance between building awareness and activating new potential customers.
It can be tempting to run lots of offers to get customers over the line but at the same time, it can diminish the value of your product if you’re always on sale.
Try to reframe how you talk about offers and only use them at key moments. Hotel Chocolat call offers “events” to make them sound more upmarket and exciting. They choose to run them occasionally, like at the beginning of autumn to say “welcome to hot chocolate season”. Or in the run-up to Christmas where they saw lots of consideration and wanted to push for conversion.
Make sure your offers feel right for your brand and aren’t always on.
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