The Hello Kitty frenzy has happened again in Singapore, where people queue for long hours outside McDonald’s outlets just to get hold on the limited fairytale edition stuffed toy. The frenzy went a little bit wilder when masses of consumers queued for the toy despite the current unhealthy haze. Some consumers are even caught on video, quarreling and making a fuss over this stuffed kitty toy.
So, as marketers and PR professionals, what can we learn from this kitty frenzy?
1. Creating unhappy customers experiences is bad publicity
News of consumers queuing for long hours with tired legs or quarreling and losing their cool over your company products may create a bad image for your brand.
An unhappy customer is bad publicity for the brand, especially when they express their unhappiness over social media. In this case, we are talking about an already established brand that can still withstand a few knocks from negative publicity. But if we are talking brands which are not yet established, creating unhappy customer experience is not a good idea.
2. Short term sales does not mean long term gain
Giveaways, promotions and selling of limited edition toys with your products may give you short term sales but it may not mean long term gain. Using of marketing hyped words such as “limited edition” may drive your consumers emotionally to get the item; hence such words should be used sparingly.
While all these marketing tactics might work for the short term, we need to ask ourselves if it will work in the long term. It is most important to create good, positive strategies that will help the brand to grow steadily in the long run, and which do not damage the positive image of the brand.
3. Always learn from the past PR mistakes
This McDonald’s fairytale Hello Kitty episode seems uncannily like a repeat of the episode in the year 2000, when the same Kitty frenzy had occurred - customers quarreled and fought over the Hello Kitty Wedding edition. Some lessons McDonald’s should learn from the past mistakes is to have proper logistic management, crowd management as well as train your staff to do some quick PR, especially when the crowd becomes out of control. The past PR mistakes tell the brand what it should or should not do when they launch a new marketing campaign.
4. Predict the best and the worst possible outcome
Always predict the best possible outcome as well as the worst possible outcome. In the event that it happens, you will already have the solution ready. One possible way that McDonald’s can do to alleviate the situation and make their customers happy is to remove the concept of “limited edition”. Allow customers to pre-order their own set of Kitty dolls (within a certain time frame) and notify them when it is ready for collection. In this way, you make the genuine Hello Kitty collectors happy, while discouraging opportunists from fierce hoarding. Incidents like quarrels, customer unhappiness are less likely to happen.
5. Take care of the aftermath
When the marketing campaign is over, it does not literally mean it is over. The marketer or PR executive has to garner feedback from the consumers, find out whether they are doing right (or wrong) and if there is anything that the brand can improve on. The Hello Kitty frenzy created many opportunists among the consumers – you can see the Kitty dolls selling at marked up prices on eBay, various online forums and even McDonald’s official Facebook page. Without taking care of such aftermath, the brand will lose its control and the public perception of the brand will turn bad as well.
Every little incident has something for us to learn from. As marketers and PR executives, let’s take this recent Hello Kitty Frenzy as a learning opportunity for us to take extra care of our brands in the future.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Jacky Tan is a professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of 'Social M - How Your Startup Can Take On the Big Boys'. Jacky leads the boutique marketing communications and branding agency, Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd. He specialises in the creation of successful branding, content marketing and pr strategies for companies of any size.