3 Brands That Successfully Used Trade Ins as a Marketing Incentive

Perhaps a competitor’s product can help sell yours, too

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The idea of using trade-ins to drive sales may conjure images of the automotive industry. But this marketing strategy is now being embraced by another less obvious category: food products.

From pizza to sausage to even a donut brand has begun offering trade-in programs. And it’s easy to see why when the benefits of this approach go beyond just sales. Trade-in incentives also deliver on marketing strategies like customer conquests, stimulating social advocacy and reinforcing brand positioning.

Having trouble picturing a trade-in program for anything besides selling cars? Here are three creative and effective ways food brands have employed the concept.

Competitor conquests

Offering an incentive to trade in competitor proof of purchases can be a highly effective strategy for acquiring new customers and growing category share. Brands know they’re reaching qualified target consumers, and each competitor proof of purchase provides valuable intelligence, like which brand the consumer currently purchases, their product preferences and even where they buy. To optimize success, the incentive offered should stimulate product trial or create ongoing CRM stickiness (opt-in, app download, etc.).

Earlier this year, Domino’s used the concept of trade-ins as a customer conquest strategy. In the “Love of Pizza” campaign, Domino’s awarded customers Piece of the Pie reward points for trading in pictures of competitors’ pizza. While the concept of awarding loyalty points for competitor purchases might seem counterintuitive, this was a brilliant strategy for targeting consumers of competitor pizzas because it incentivized them to download Domino’s mobile app and enroll in the brand’s loyalty program.

Stimulating social advocacy

The concept of trade ins can be expanded beyond purchase focused incentives and used to motivate valuable non-purchase behaviors, such as social advocacy. By finding an equitable value exchange between the brand and consumers, trade-in incentives can be used to motivate a variety of socially shared advocacy behaviors, such as generating testimonials, driving awareness of new products and increasing usage occasions.

The influence of social media on the way we cook and eat continues to grow. In an effort to take advantage of this culinary trend, the Jimmy Dean Holiday Gift Exchange offered consumers the opportunity to trade tasty recipe pictures for real life sausage-inspired gifts. Enticing target consumers to use Jimmy Dean recipes and post a pic of their creations using the signature sausage, the brand gave away truly unique Jimmy Dean-themed free gifts, such as sausage scented wrapping paper, to create a fun and memorable holiday exchange. With 22% of cooks and 44% of millennials posting photos of their home-cooked dinners, Jimmy Dean made the perfect trade to get noticed during the holiday season.

Reinforcing premium positioning

The competition for consumer spend has never been more intense. This is especially true during key selling seasons when brands spend millions to drive awareness that their product is the best solution for a consumer’s needs. With all the seasonal marketing noise, it can be hard for brands to differentiate their claims from competitors.

However, there is an opportunity for brands to win over disappointed consumers who purchase competitor products that fall short of delivering on their claims. Buyer’s remorse is an inevitable consumer emotion, and allowing dissatisfied consumers the opportunity to trade in their suboptimal purchase allows brands to reinforce their premium positioning and drive product trial.

The once niche flavor of pumpkin spice has become a major, months-long sales opportunity for a growing range of products like coffee, cereal, liquors, ice cream, candy, protein bars, yogurt, waffle mix and more. This year, Krispy Kreme deployed a trade-in marketing campaign to drive sales and reinforce its position as a purveyor of premium quality sweet treats. The Pumpkin Spice Purchase Protection plan invited anyone disappointed by any pumpkin spice product to trade it in for one of Krispy Kreme’s delicious doughnut versions for free.

As evidenced by these examples, the opportunities to leverage trade ins as a marketing strategy are wide open now. Think beyond the car lot for ways this not-so-new incentive can benefit your brand.