All too often, established brands shy away from innovating or leveraging the latest technology for fear of negatively affecting their hard-won brand integrity. The best brands, however, utilize technology to elevate their brand story and keep their second-to-none offering top of mind for consumers in an era of ample noise but few compelling stories.
Decadent frozen beverage brand Fat Tuesday is a shining example of the latter category. Since its founding in 1984, Fat Tuesday has served over 250 million frozen drinks and expanded to more than 35 locations across North America and beyond. Fat Tuesday has made a name for itself as not only a bon temps-engendering locale, but also as an in-demand retailer of spirited apparel, party gear and drink mixes.
Fat Tuesday has no true competitors due to the uniqueness of its offering. It’s not about simply what’s on the menu or the hanger; rather, the brand has expanded into an international phenomenon thanks to its ability to capture the uniquely festive spirit of New Orleans.
“There isn’t another brand that can offer guests the atmosphere and lifestyle experience that Fat Tuesday does,” said Danny Cattan, Fat Tuesday’s Director of Global Franchise Development. “Because of this, our commitment to innovation isn’t reactive like that of other brands. Instead, we’re using technology to push ourselves even further as an industry leader.”
So just how is Fat Tuesday tapping tech to elevate the brand? By harnessing the power of social media, for starters.
“On social media, we are all in from a branding and exposure standpoint,” said Cattan.
One of the ways Fat Tuesday is building brand awareness is through strategic partnerships with influencers and other relevant brands.
“In addition to ramping up our analytics reporting and the metrics we focus on, we're developing robust influencer strategy and leveraging cross-promotional brand partnerships,” said Renee LeBouef, a representative for Fat Tuesday’s marketing team. “With Facebook and Instagram at the forefront of strategy, we'll focus far more closely on UGC (user-generated content) to highlight the true Fat Tuesday experience, showcasing a 'day in the life' of frozen beverage lovers, from Vegas to the Caribbean.”
LeBouef further explained that, especially for a lifestyle brand like Fat Tuesday, the customer experience is paramount.
“A brand is what your customer perceives. I see many franchised brands pivoting to a relentless focus on truly understanding their audience and feeding them content they want to see,” said LeBouef. “We're refining our listening engine and integrating each platform's latest and greatest reporting options (such as audience retention rates in video content)—and, of course, focusing heavily on video."
Engaging social media content and strategic partnerships aren’t the only ways that Fat Tuesday is innovating.
“We’re also testing a new beverage vessel in the Las Vegas market right now that has an LED screen that is BluTooth-compatible and allows the user to change the messages on the screen,” said Cattan. “We incorporated technology into the cup because it elevated the customer experience. We’re about keeping it fresh and not only relying on what’s been successful for us throughout our 35-year existence, while still promising guests that authentic, high-octane experience.”
And the brand’s commitment to forward-focused technology extends to the franchisee level as well. In addition to utilizing its own proprietary inventory software written specifically for Fat Tuesday franchisees, the brand is implementing software upgrades throughout the system.
“We are in the process of upgrading our back-of-house software and rolling out a new content relationship management platform,” Cattan explained. “Within the upgraded CRM, owners will be able to communicate with one another via an intrasystem blog so that they can share best practices. The CRM is a big investment for us, but an even bigger opportunity.”
Finally, Cattan said, Fat Tuesday is working to update the consumer-facing site, with improved UX and a mobile-friendly design.
“We’re really going to give it a fresh look that captures the vibrancy of Fat Tuesday,” said Cattan. “Stay tuned.”