Gevalia Aims for a Buzzy Social Partying Weekend

Swedish coffee brand looks for more American market share

It stands to reason that caffeinated folks are unusually active on social media. Gevalia can only hope that's the case this Saturday when 3,000 so-called consumer advocates host parties in their homes, inviting guests to taste various coffee options from the brand—and then hopefully post away via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.

The vendor driving the offline play is aptly called House Party, Inc., a company that's been working with Kraft Foods—Gevalia's parent—for a few years (not to be confused with House Party, the movie). In other words, it's not a new concept, though it's the first time the b-to-c and b-to-b coffees provider has given it a shot. And with the explosion of social media, particularly Twitter and Pinterest, this relatively seasoned idea continues to evolve (witness Jennie Garth's recent foray).

"It is a great forum to talk about preference while leveraging socially active advocates," Greg Guidotti, sr. director of premium coffee and e-commerce at Kraft, told Adweek. "It's a superb way of spreading that message."

For the last several months, Guidotti and his team have aimed to increase awareness for the Swedish brand, which has a dramatically larger market share in Europe compared to the U.S. Gevalia is certainly no Starbucks or Folgers in America (its roots are in direct marketing), but it wants to be.

Based on similar efforts of the recent past, Irvington, N.Y.-based House Party predicts tomorrow's offline-online event will generate more than 14 million earned media impressions, driving brand metrics such as favorability and purchase intent upward. Kraft recently fashioned a similar party effort for its Planters brand.

"They are essentially having a branded event in the comfort of a consumer's home," Guidotti said. "That not only drives the advocacy but increases the sources. One house partier brings 10 or 12 of his or her friends into the place to try the product. And then, the proof is in the demonstration. And coming directly from an advocate—that's a [marketing] benefit."

House Party recruited the hosts by tapping into its community of 800,000 brand-advocate volunteers. Based on Gevalia's demographic and psychographic requests, 21,000 were initially chosen before the final few thousand made the cut. The hosts are only being incentivized by receiving a "party pack," which entails a 12-ounce coffee bag, 13 Gevalia-emblazoned stainless steel mugs, 13 branded coffee scoops and a bevy of freebie and discount coupons.

All told, Gevalia would like to see a buzzy weekend that brims with product comments and photos—or "coffee porn," if you will.

"This is not a scripted event," Guidotti explained. "We post questions for the consumers, such as, 'What was your reaction?' And, 'What do you think?' It's no more prompted than that. … Let's have the consumer speak from their perspective."