Barry Westrum, executive vice president of marketing at International Dairy Queen, recently shared how this heritage brand is re-inventing itself as a modern and relevant dining destination for the next generation of millennial fans. Next year, Dairy Queen will be celebrating 75 years which raises an interesting question…how does the brand think and act “75 years young?” Throughout his presentation he shared 5 key strategies:

Recognize and accept your competition. While Dairy Queen may be different than many of its competitors in terms of size and offerings, quick service restaurants such as McDonalds, Wendy’s and others are still its competitors.

Find your North Star. What’s your competitive advantage? How do you leverage that advantage to set you apart from the rest? For Dairy Queen, its customers are much more than that, they are fans. When you think of Dairy Queen, most have a found memory of getting cone with grandpa or a weekly sundae after baseball or soccer practice. Therefore, Dairy Queen needed to leverage its past to stay relevant for the future. Enter… Fan Food!

Give the fans what they want. In the case of Dairy Queen, its fans wanted value, healthy options, etc. To address some of these, they updated their menu with the following:

  • The $5 lunch… A sandwich, fries and a drink are a fairly common offering at most quick service restaurants, but the addition of a sundae really sets Dairy Queen about from the competition and makes this lunch a truly great value!
  • New salad offerings for those looking for tasty, yet healthy options.
  • The mini blizzard which addresses to issues at once – the size is important for those looking for a reasonably-sized treat, who consider a small to be too big. Additionally, the cost is less making it more affordable for those who consider Dairy Queen treats to be on the high end in price.

Be distinctive. No other quick service restaurant serves its product upside down. While this is currently not someone you see at every Dairy Queen location. In 2015, that will change as all stores will serve blizzards upside down or that blizzard is free.

Targeted marketing. For many, purchasing frozen treats is very dependent on the weather. Dairy Queen recognizes this and it targeting its marketing efforts to make the most of temperatures drops now that winter is upon us.

And did you know that Dairy Queen is mentioned within social media every 18 seconds?

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About The Author

Clark Gregor has more than a decade of business marketing, communication and public relations experience, primarily in higher education, with shorter stints in corporate public relations and the federal government. At the University of St. Thomas he manages communications at the Opus College of Business and edits the university blog for graduate business programs, Opus Magnum along with other marketing efforts.

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