I get homesick once in a while. I long for the little Austrian village – surrounded by lakes, hills and mountains – where I grew up.
Way back then and still today the time between Christmas and New Year is cookie time. Or more precisely: it is the time all housewives will start a friendly competition to have an ode to their baking sung in the entire village.
Let me tell you a somewhat different marketing, product development and QR code winter tale.
Why Surveys May Lie
During these days, there is no chance to visit a neighbor (and what else is there to do during the cold and short winter holidays) without the “cookie ritual”. As soon as you sit down, you are presented a fine selection of cookies and forced to delay any diet to the next year. As a child I was convinced that this is the reason why Christmas and New Year are so close.
This feast of tastes, colors and forms is only overshadowed by the need to find the right words to praise the housewife’s accomplishments. Of course whatever you will say in this situation might have only a slight resemblance to what you really think and to what you will share with your friends. Which sheds a bit of light on the fact that surveys done under pressure are not the ones you should count on to make your marketing and business plans.
Word of Mouth Marketing at its Best
It is the word-of-mouth marketing, however, that will bring about the coronation of this year’s queens of Christmas cookies. Please – don’t think too little of us villagers – there is no bad intention in spreading the word. It is rather a real world example of the NPS question “How likely are you to recommend my cookies to your friends and families”. Knowing upfront at which neighbor it is worthwhile to forget our nutritionist’s advice is really helpful. It also reduces the danger of coming too late when the best cookies are already out of stock.
What Cookies Tells us about Product Strategies
While no obvious business interest can be found or no official competition is held, there are clearly three different product strategies that different Austrian housewives follow:
Perfection of the Known
No risky start-ups here. You will get the same cookies you already know since you are able to remember Christmas. These housewives base their cookies production on business intelligence and a deep knowledge of their target audience. And you, the end user, feel empowered to really judge the housewife’s bakery. As you are familiar with these cookies, you are able to compare, and only the best will pass the threshold of your recommendations.
Diversity – Find the one to your taste
A rich product catalog targeting different market segments. How wrong can you go, when offering 20 different cookies? While this strategy will certainly raise recognition for the diligence of the housewife, the danger is clear. The unloved part of your cookies will remain in your jars until February.
Innovation, Surprise and Monopoly
Risky business! Either a very own creation or one found on a holiday trip or on the Internet is offered. For sure no one else will be able to offer this cookie. It may be winning or losing.
Qkies – QR Code Cookies
For those looking for innovation on the cookie field, one idea comes from Germany. Qkies is a brain child of the cooperation between the Juchem Gruppe, and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, which ranks among the most recognized “Centers of Excellence” in the international scientific community.
QKies are biscuits, on which you can apply an edible QR code. The price is just under 7 € for the baking mixture and the QR code plates.
After baking, you configure with a registration number contained in each package a link from your QR code to your online message. QKies are designed as an original tool for party invitations or promotions.
Just make sure the receiver reads the QR code before eating the cookie.
QR Code 2012 Prediction
Let me close with an outlook on 2012. QR codes are going to be an accepted part of the marketers’ tool box. While in 2011 much about QR code was only buzz, in 2012 we will see even more exciting examples of how to bridge physical and digital worlds.