By linking its products to consumers’ happy memories, Carvel Corporation is counting on both nostalgic and viral marketing to further drive consumer loyalty. Remaining true to itself, despite the surrounding dieting frenzy, Carvel looks positively innovative and self-assured.

This week, Carvel launched a search for US consumers’ favourite Carvel ice cream memory. In its Memories and Memorabilia Search, Carvel is looking for photos, videos, Carvel items and a description of why Carvel made the memory special. Carvel will pick a prizewinner to receive an ice cream cake delivered every month for a year. The company is hoping to drive both traffic and loyalty to its stores by reminding consumers of its lengthy history in the ice cream business and the value that ice cream provides to consumers’ lives.

Since 1934 Carvel has been growing steadily. It now has approximately 460 franchised ice cream shops and is available through nearly 6,300 supermarkets in 20 US states, primarily in the northeast. It is a brand most favoured by those growing up on the east coast of the US, with pop culture recognition in TV shows ranging from Everybody Loves Raymond and The Sopranos to The Simpsons.

Using this non-traditional advertising method, Carvel is trying to capture consumers’ hearts and in the process, a slightly larger proportion of their discretionary spending. Positioned on the embattled side of the low-carb frenzied diet and obesity-obsessed US culture, Carvel has chosen to avoid the ‘indulge yourself’ messages that many similar products use.

Instead, it is creating a more subtle connection with its consumers, leveraging and reinforcing existing consumer loyalty. The company hopes that by combining the twin themes of nostalgic and viral marketing into a unique promotion it will be able to further promote itself by later displaying the memorabilia collected as part of another self promoting initiative.

At a time when many manufacturers are launching product extensions that shift focus from core brand values to that of carbohydrate count, Carvel’s approach is refreshing. Through this promotion Carvel is reminding consumers of its strengths, rather than its weaknesses.

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