Companies often experience sudden spikes in demand as a result of shifting consumer needs, new product launches, and even viral marketing. In order to convert these short spurts into sustained success, companies must develop communication plans to turn brief consumer interactions into long-term relationships.
In August, fast-food chain Popeyes saw one of the most marked increases in demand in recent memory following the launch of its new chicken sandwich. Within a week, a twitter exchange between Popeyes and competitor Chick-fil-A went viral, resulting in the new sandwich becoming a sensation across the United States. Suddenly, thousands of people were lining up at Popeyes locations to try the famous sandwich, with each store selling around 1,000 per day. Demand was so high that the company’s in-store traffic and market share both doubled while the sandwich was available.
By mid-September, the chain had sold out of the sandwich, with no word on when it would be available again. Consumers, meanwhile, have been quick to move on to the next big thing. The launch was undoubtedly a huge success for Popeyes, but the company’s sales will quickly return to normal if it fails to form lasting relationships with these new customers.
This conundrum isn’t limited to Popeyes; Starbucks ran into the same problem after its “Unicorn Frappuccino” went viral in 2017. Even some retailers have yet to crack the code: Think of all the consumers who flock to hardware stores to get shovels the night before a big snowstorm. Do the stores capitalize on this and make an effort to create long-term relationships with these customers?
Although companies can’t always control when demand will peak, they can make sure they have solid communication plans in place to take advantage of these rare instances. Follow-up marketing is critical to ensuring the brand remains top-of-mind after the dust has settled.