Give the customers what they want


It may seem like the oldest lesson in marketing to give customers what they want but in a litigation-filled society there’s always some fearful manager (or sometimes attorney) willing to stand in the way of success.

You might have heard the story of Minnesota college student Jayson Gonzalez who stumbled into a brilliant idea of reselling Krispy Kreme donuts to hungry classmates and other donut junkies in his community by driving 500 miles round trip from St. Paul to the nearest Krispy Kreme store in Iowa. He would load 100 boxes into his car, and despite a healthy markup required to make the journey worthwhile, be became quite a popular guy. Having lived for a time in the South where the chain has most of its locations I can testify that a box of Krispy Kreme donuts should be on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act ahead of all of the dangerously addictive narcotics.

The story went national, resulting, perhaps predictably, in someone from the Krispy Kreme corporate office calling him to put a hole in his enterprise. Jayson politely complied but the social media backlash soon haunted the company. They relented and instead donated 500 boxes to help him restart the business. 

Jayson began a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy a van. His next surprise came when a freight and logistics trade magazine and Daimler AG donated the Sprinter van he needs. His GoFundMe page says he’ll use the over $8,000 he has raised for taxes, insurance and snow tires.

I suppose there were some legitimate concerns at Krispy Kreme that might have involved product liability, compliance with health laws, avoiding the appearance of profiteering and such. But in the end the solution was to work through the concerns rather than diminish the very aspect that exemplified the company’s fame — a product so delicious (and a little hard to get) that people will go to outrageous lengths to get it. You can’t buy advertising more effective than that.

— Frederick Welk
CEDF Business Advisor


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