It’s not about the cookie, its what the cookie represents

by Stan Phelps

in purple goldfish project

Flour, eggs, butter and chocolate chip cookies and . . .

I recently visited a quick business lunch at the Port Chester Coach Diner in Port Chester, NY.  Upon paying at the counter I noticed a bowl of miniature chocolate chip cookies.

Here is the recap of the experience from Synergy’s VP of Brand Experience Tim Heath:

port chester coach diner

“I recently enjoyed a business lunch on the fly with a colleague. We were pleased with the rapid and attentive service and quality of food. I walked away from the table content; but you guessed it, I was seeking a little something more from the dessert to satisfy my appetite. Much to our pleasure, there was a container of complimentary small chocolate chip cookies morsels next to the cash register. My colleague and I looked at each other simultaneously with a smile and then enjoyed. We both consumed two free cookies and we shared our pleasure with the owner/manager who was observing our enthusiastic response to his offering. A pleasant ending to a fine lunch. I look forward to my next meal at the Port Chester Coach Diner”

The chocolate chip cookie has been a thread throughout the Purple Goldfish Project.  The very first submission from Tom Haidinger was the DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookie.  doubletree hotel chocolate chip cookieDoubleTree and their signature chocolate cookie was named so many times they own the distinction of being the first brand inducted into the Purple Goldfish Hall of Fame.

midwest airlines chocolate chip cookieDoubleTree was followed by Midwest Airlines (now Frontier) and Fort Wayne International Airport.  The trio has given away more than 250 million chocolate chip cookies collectively.

Recent entries have included Pot Belly Sandwiches and now the Port Chester Coach Diner.

It begs the question  . . .what’s so special about a chocolate cookie?

chocolate chip cookie lagniappe

DoubleTree offers an explanation right on the brown paper bag the cookie comes in. “Why a cookie?” the headline asks. “Cookies are warm, personal and inviting, much like our hotels and the staff here that serves you.”

Quoted in an article by the NY Times, Erich Joachimsthaler, chief executive of Vivaldi Partners said,

“when consumers don’t know how to judge the benefits or the differentiation of a product — I don’t know the difference between Midwest and JetBlue and United — then a meaningless attribute like cookies can create meaningful differentiation . . .The giveaway creates buzz, it creates differentiation, it increases a purchase decision.”

I’m not sure if I agree with meaningless, especially if that little extra is a signature element.  I subscribe to the philosophy that Malcolm Gladwell offered in The Tipping Point,”The little things can make the biggest difference.”  The chocolate chip cookie is not just a chocolate chip cookie.  It’s much more than that.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra) – the Doubletree has given away over 215 million chocolate cookies.  Here is some background:

amazon kindle bestseller

Lagniappe defined: A marketing lagniappe,  i.e. purple goldfish,  is any time a business goes above and beyond to provide a ‘little something extra’.  It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure.

Where is the lagniappe in your marketing? What’s Your Purple Goldfish?

Slideshare preview of the Book here

These examples were featured in the book, What’s Your Purple Goldfish? How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth

{ 4 trackbacks }

Purple Goldfish Project Top Ten List 18 (#851-900)
October 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm
12 Most Unique Examples From The Purple Goldfish Project | 12 Most
January 11, 2012 at 9:02 am
Do the Little Things Make a Big Difference in Customer Experience? 12 Lessons from the Purple Goldfish Project
January 17, 2012 at 7:43 am
The Midwest Airlines cookie crumbles in the hands of Frontier – the loss of a brand icon | Leaders in airline & airport customer engagement :: SimpliFlying
April 3, 2012 at 11:44 am

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sandra mckenna May 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Cookies speak a universal language, they never go out of vogue and like puppies, who doesn’t love a cookie? Cookies were all the rage long before the cupcake decide to share in the limelight. The good news, the stage is big enough for both. Long live the cookie!

2 Rene Milligan August 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I just got home from a trip on United one way and Frontier the other way. The United plane, though probably older, was noticeably “fresher.” The Frontier plane, with its quirky animal tale/tail was just more noticeable, period. But so was the shilling of “Live” DirectTV, movies, snacks, etc. during the first half of the flight. (The term “sky mall” has never felt so right.) But then, when I was finally ready to just curl up and avoid it all with a nap, I smelled something great-baking cookies. My wife and I were each served one. It was delicious. And for a while, it made me forget about the shilling, and appreciate the ride a little more. Did it work? It made me feel good. Was it a differentiator? Yes. Only Southwest has given me “free” food on a flight lately, and those peanuts didn’t come right out of the oven, filled with melting chocolate chips. Will I fly Frontier again? Probably, if the price and the flight time are right first. They certainly register now on my travel radar, when they didn’t a month ago.

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