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How Cinnabon Launched Into the Digital Landscape Through Localized Marketing and Found Success


Today, let’s dive into another motivating brand success story featured in the Clicks 2 Bricks podcast hosted by SOCi’s own Rob Reed. In this interview, Reed speaks with Kristen Hartman. She was recently promoted from President of Cinnabon to Category President of Specialty Brands, including Cinnabon, along with Auntie Anne’s, Jamba, and Carvel – major players in the restaurant industry. Cinnabon is an exceptional brand that has created a winning localized marketing strategy – read on to learn how you can, too.


Throughout this blog, we’ll break down Hartman’s interview, share how Cinnabon and other Focus Brand businesses recently found success through localized marketing, and break down the tactics they used for you to implement into your own localized marketing efforts. 


A Look Into Cinnabon’s Brand Evolution 


Kristen Hartman has been with Cinnabon since 2012. When she was first promoted to President of Cinnabon, Hartman wanted to focus on the company’s local evolution. During this time, Hartman worked with a branding agency to dig deep into consumers’ hearts and minds to better understand how Cinnabon could adjust its path forward. As a multi-location marketer, it’s essential to be a leader and provide your consumers with what they are looking for before realizing they are looking for it. Cinnabon did just that. 


With a background in marketing, Hartman had some advantages that presidents of other companies might not have. Hartman wanted Cinnabon to feel like home to each of its local customers and worked to ensure this happened. As COVID-19 ramped in early 2020, Cinnabon was forced to rethink its localized marketing strategy and think outside the box. 


COVID-19 Impacted Cinnabon’s Localized Marketing Efforts 


Even pre-pandemic, Cinnabon was looking at ways to remarket themselves and expand their target audience. One of the leading marketing tactics that Cinnabon has heavily relied on in the past is foot traffic. As you can imagine, as a brand that primarily had mall locations in its portfolio, mall traffic has decreased significantly throughout the pandemic, so Cinnabon had to get creative. 


One of the changes Cinnabon has started to implement is opening standalone stores. While this was already in the works before the pandemic, this effort was accelerated this past year. Cinnabon began to open storefronts in areas that already have high foot traffic. Each city has that location – a popular street or neighborhood that already has a ton of foot traffic, and that’s where you want your store to be! This all goes back to localization. Cinnabon researched – at the local level – to understand what areas could work best in each city from a foot traffic standpoint before opening a store. 


Cinnabon also saw a shift towards digital during the pandemic, as many multi-location businesses did. When it comes to digital marketing, Hartman explains that Cinnabon has been using a hybrid approach. The digital marketing plan comes from the corporate level and is customized and executed at the local level. Throughout the conversation, Hartman emphasizes the need for a localized marketing plan. She notes that while Cinnabon isn’t in every region, the regions that they are in vary, and the marketing plans must reflect that. If your multi-location business is spread across multiple states or even across the country, your marketing efforts must be localized to the different areas your company is marketing to. 


 Third-Party Delivery Options Took Cinnabon to the Next Level 


While Cinnabon’s localized marketing plan had to change due to the pandemic, they also had to think about different ways to get their product in front of consumers. This is where third party delivery comes into play. Before COVID-19 made its way into our everyday lives, Cinnabon didn’t have any delivery system for their products, but the pandemic caused this to change. 


Third-party delivery options like Uber Eats and Favor have become Cinnabon’s top growth engine throughout the pandemic, and this will likely continue even after the pandemic slightly subsides. This delivery option allows consumers to get Cinnabon delivered right to their home without having to drive anywhere or make a phone call. As the world has shifted digital, Cinnabon has as well, and their sales reflect this. While most businesses have struggled financially this past year, and understandably so, Cinnabon has actually started to see growth in its sales.


Cinnabon’s sales have been increasing consistently over the past five months, and they hope to see this continue throughout 2021 and beyond. A focus on localized marketing and the quick shift to third party delivery, as a result of consumers’ behavior, helped Cinnabon find success in a challenging year. When asked about what Cinnabon has in store next, Hartman revealed that Cinnabon would release a loyalty app where people can either place a Cinnabon order to be picked up or delivered. As you can see, Cinnabon is consistently thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing. 


Start Creating Your Own Success Story


As a multi-location marketer, you should always think about how you can command your industry and distinguish yourself from the competition. Cinnabon found that through creativity and an emphasis on localization, they could attain their goals in 2020, despite it being an incredibly tough year – especially for the restaurant industry. For more on Cinnabon’s story and how they achieved success, check out the full interview


Now that you’re feeling inspired, it’s time to get started building your own success story. While localized marketing can seem like a daunting task, SOCi is here to help bring your dreams to reality! SOCi is the central command for multi-location marketers and the all-in-one platform for your localized marketing needs. For more information on how SOCi can help you break through the noise, engage in meaningful connections with your target audience, and elevate your localized marketing efforts, request a demo today!