Nation’s Restaurant News recently reported on a hot trend that I think makes a lot of sense: Restaurant franchises are holding contests where consumers get a chance to create new menu items.
The latest entrant into the contest fray is Culver’s ButterBurgers & Frozen Custard, which is asking customers to help create new sandwiches based on the restaurant’s signature hamburger. The 480-unit chain is running the contest through June 30. Entrants post their ButterBurger recipes online; the public votes to come up with a top 50, from which Culver’s CEO and co-founder, Craig Culver, and executive chef Jim Doak will choose the winning recipe.
The winner will be flown on a private jet to Culver’s test kitchen to help refine the recipe with Culver and Doak, then will have his or her recipe served at the original Culver’s in Sauk City, Wisconsin.
Dunkin’ Donuts recently announced the winner of its second annual “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest. Rachel Davis won $12,000 for her creation, the Monkey-see Monkey-donut, filled with bananas Foster and topped with chocolate icing and peanut butter shavings. The doughnut will be on Dunkin’s menu as a limited-time offer this fall.
Through June 13, Papa John’s Pizza is running the Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge, a competition to create and name Papa John’s next specialty pizza. The winner gets pizza for life and a chance to be in a TV commercial, and receives a percentage of sales of the new pizza up to $10,000.
Why are contests like these a great idea for franchisors? First, it’s a way to capitalize on the social media trend. By getting consumers involved in a brand at an unprecedented level, franchisors have a way to find their most “raving fans,” make them even bigger fans and use them as marketing tools to engage even more fans. Consumers who have a stake in a brand because they’re hoping to win a contest are going to pay more attention to everything the company does, talk it up to their friends and mention it online.
These days, customers want to feel personally involved in the brands they care about -– and what better way to do that than by giving them a say in what you sell? Not to mention, these contests are a great way to tap into creative ideas a franchise company might never have come up with on its own. For franchisors, consumer contests are truly a win-win situation.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva on Twitter at Twitter.com/Rieva. Visit SmallBizDaily.com to read more of Rieva’s insights on small business and to buy her newest book, Marketing 101: Quick Tips for Marketing Your Business.