Bringing a brand back from the dead is no easy feat. It takes a concentrated effort on all management levels to get something as large as Hostess Cakes back into stores. And credit unions can learn a thing or two from Hostess work to put Twinkies back on shelves.
When Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in less than a decade in 2012, it began selling its brands and laying off 15,000 workers. By late 2012, there was serious concern that Twinkies were headed for extinction. Thanks to a mid-March purchase of several parts of the Hostess brand by Apollo Group Management and Metropoulous & Co., Twinkies will be back in both grocery and convenience stores by the end of July 2013.
But this doesn’t mark the end of the strategy dubbed The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever. Realistically, it will only be the beginning.
Here are four things credit unions can learn from the return of Hostess:
1. Develop A Strong Message
Television watchers in the 1990s are likely familiar with the Hostess tagline: Hey, where’s the cream filling?
Metropoulous & Co. is ditching that, however, to tell a new age of consumers that these aren’t their older siblings Twinkies.
According to a July 15 article in Time Magazine, these Twinkies intend to appeal to an audience wider than parents who pack school lunches. The new Hostess wants to get a piece of the younger males that shop in convenience stores. Twinkies will appear in 110,000 convenience stores, up from the 50,000 under the previous owners, and 100,000 larger grocery stores. The brand still expects to find its way into school lunches, but management also hopes Twinkie will become a dorm room staple.
2. Don’t Stop Improving
The possibility of smaller Twinkies aside, the biggest challenge for the revamped brand going forward will be its ability to find a market in an increasingly health-conscious America. As Evan Metropoulous of Metropoulous & Co. said in a March 21 Time article, there will be opportunities to look at baking them to make them as fresh and tasty as possible and to get to the consumer as quickly as possible and to be priced as fairly as possible.
So the answer to whether the iconic Twinkie recipe will stay the same? Maybe, probably not.
3. Be Proactive
The Twinkie is as arguably as well known in America as George Washington. The brand is so strong the new management didn’t need to innovate to reproduce a successful product. So instead, management put its efforts toward reworking some of Twinkies inefficiencies and creating buzz in the market place.
Consumers aren’t saying Oh, Twinkies are back. They’re saying OH! TWINKIES ARE BACK!
4. Get On Social Media
Twinkies might have had trouble finding younger males if it wasn’t for a solid social marketing strategy. Companies can conduct more efficient, effective customer outreach online than on traditional media platforms. In anticipation of Hostess return, the company updated its Facebook and Twitter pages frequently and created the interactive website Feed Your Cake Face. Through these social channels, Hostess has created buzz around its return.
Whether it can parlay that the excitement into sales remains to be seen.