Cracker Barrel Pegs Dolly As A Loyalty Ambassador. What Could Go Wrong?

Dolly Parton Might Present How Harmonized Celeb Partnerships Can Be

Model-celebrity partnerships return generations, with blended outcomes. Right here’s why Dolly Parton’s increasing bond with Cracker Barrel is more likely to be extra rewarding for each.

By Jenn McMillen, CLMP™ Founder and Chief Accelerant of Incendio 

Dolly desires a rockin’ good time. And, being Dolly, she desires you to have one, too.

By extending its ongoing relationship with Dolly Parton to its not too long ago launched Cracker Barrel Rewards program, the down-home chain is perhaps hoping to place its opponents over a barrel. Few celebs are as nicely embraced as Parton, no matter musical tastes and demographics.

Nonetheless, celebrity-brand partnerships include well-documented danger. The meltdown of the Adidas-Ye (previously Kanye West) partnership in October 2022, following the rapper’s anti-Semitic remarks, is only one latest instance. Adidas in March reported a $540 million fourth-quarter loss, due partly to its incapability to promote his Yeezy-branded merchandise, NPR reported.

Good day Dolly!

Such a debacle is unlikely with Parton, which is partly why Cracker Barrel companions along with her.

“A world icon like Dolly Parton, nicely, she has this innate capability to unite individuals along with her music; she is adored and revered by such a various viewers spanning individuals of all totally different backgrounds and walks of life,” Amy Barnett, vp of selling, loyalty and digital expertise at Cracker Barrel, wrote in an e-mail interview. “That have and feeling is precisely what we purpose to emulate.”

It helps, she added, that their relationship spans so a few years.

Cracker Barrel has been partnering with Parton since 2009, in collaboration along with her musical releases. Making her the face of its “Rewards That Rock” marketing campaign to advertise its loyalty program, launched in September, was fortuitous. Her album “Rockstar” additionally not too long ago dropped. As a part of the tie-in, program members may enter to win one among 667 Dolly Rockin’ Chairs, co-designed with Parton.

In mid-November, Cracker Barrel shops will start to hold Dolly Rockstar merchandise, together with the CD, t-shirts, and hats.

How Cracker Barrel Dolls Up Loyalty

Early on, Cracker Barrel’s loyalty workforce made “a number of deliberate concerns” when designing Cracker Barrel Rewards, Barnett stated. It carried out a number of rounds of qualitative and quantitative analysis, from what to call to this system to analyzing the bottom assemble of a currency-based vs. non-currency-based program.

“First, we made the dedication that our program should add worth to every visitor’s expertise, and it should provide flexibility. And second, the thought with Cracker Barrel Rewards is to construct on the elements of the model that our friends already know and love – and ship extra,” she stated. For this reason the corporate constructed this system round its common peg board sport; a staple of the Cracker Barrel expertise.

As for making Dolly Parton the face of this system, Barnett stated the first goal was to generate mass shopper consciousness. However there are historic, cultural tie-ins that ensured an excellent partnership as nicely: Cracker Barrel was based in Lebanon, Tennessee, simply miles exterior Nashville, so music has lengthy been a part of the model expertise. Music, like gathering on the desk, is “a really highly effective supply for individuals to connect with each other on a deeper stage,” she stated.

Authenticity additionally should come to the desk, and Parton has authenticity in spades. Cracker Barrel’s partnership along with her resonates with Cracker Barrel friends, she continued.

Doing The ‘Sound’ Examine

Even a Parton partnership may have hiccups. So earlier than launching Cracker Barrel Rewards in September, the corporate piloted this system with its staff, staging a rollout in Might and June. It used their suggestions to tweak and modify.

The participation hasn’t stopped. Cracker Barrel staff can proceed to take part in this system as members. This helped guarantee their engagement in this system early on.

So far as how non-employee members are responding, Barnett stated it’s too quickly to quantify. However she stated the corporate is seeing “directional behavioral variations between members and non-members.”

There have been glitches, too. Cracker Barrel Rewards is like every massive, “new technology-oriented” program: There are “kinks to work via and people are prioritized and addressed as they happen to maintain the expertise each seamless and enjoyable,” Barnett stated. The corporate is, for instance, prioritizing backlog points (this creator couldn’t get her factors when utilizing each a present card and money to pay the examine.)

Sage Recommendation From The Barrel

Requested what recommendation she’d give any firm constructing a rewards program, Barnett, who constructed a profession in loyalty strategizing, presents 4:

  1. Put “care” entrance and heart. Cracker Barrel’s outlined mission is “Pleasing Folks,” so the weather of its rewards program needed to adhere to that. The tone and language of this system, for instance, is structured converse to its clients in a extra “personable, one-on-one method” so members really feel cared for and valued.
  2. Be an excellent listener, and hum alongside. Earlier than constructing a rewards program, corporations needs to be 100% sure of what their clients need, by giving them the chance categorical it, after which constructing the initiative round that. As soon as it will get traction, this system’s insights function a software to reply to extra detailed suggestions.
  3. Make it a legend, however not a monster. In the case of participating reward members, greater isn’t all the time higher. Efficient rewards applications aren’t sophisticated; they merely ship what a model’s clients worth. Make it easy, versatile, and designed to satisfy their wants and preferences.
  4. Get full firm buy-in. Loyalty applications might function out of the advertising and marketing division, however they require help from the board of administrators right down to the sector groups to supply persistently and reliably. Cracker Barrel’s large-scale loyalty initiative wouldn’t have been potential with out common alignment throughout all of its stakeholders, Barnett stated.

Make It With Coronary heart, 9-to-5 And Perpetually

Lastly, a loyalty program needs to be trusted, which the above 4 components and the Dolly Parton partnership help. Everybody acknowledges Dolly’s voice, however many love her extra for her kindness and honesty.

In reality, Cracker Barrel should stay in concord with Parton’s model as a lot as she with it. And which may be the Ye-proof key to this partnership.

This text initially appeared in Forbes.

Forbes.com retail contributor Jenn McMillen is nationally famend because the architect of GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards, and is Founder and Chief Accelerant of Incendio, a agency that builds and fixes advertising and marketing, shopper engagement, loyalty and CRM applications. Incendio offers a nimble, versatile and technology-agnostic method with out the big-agency price construction and is a trusted companion of a few of the greatest manufacturers within the U.S.

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