Refill on Loyalty at Kangaroo Express

The Back Story: Brand awareness? Check. Loyalty? Check? Now it’s time to join the conversation.

For the past three years Kangaroo Express, a convenience store chain with more than 1,500 locations throughout the southeastern U.S., has provided its customers with the Holy Grail of summer beverage offers: the “RooCup.” Customers who buy the 20-ounce reusable cup, which retails for $6.99, then have the luxury of refilling it with any fountain or frozen drink as many times as they want for just 25 cents between May 1 and Labor Day at any Kangaroo Express location.

There was already an engaged and enthusiastic conversation happening online about the RooCup and people’s love for it—fans of the RooCup were actually the ones to christen it with that name.

“Fans were already on social media posting pictures of their RooCup and using #RooCup,” says Kelly Propst, an account supervisor for Largemouth Communication, the agency that handles Kangaroo Express’s PR initiatives. “In fact, it was through the use of that hashtag that the name RooCup was adopted.”

The chatter was there. The fans were primed. Now it was time for Kangaroo Express to join in.

The Strategy: To generate excitement about the RooCup, Kangaroo Express and its agency of record Skiver Advertising allowed super-fans to preregister—to “ROOserve,” if you will—their RooCup on the brand’s Facebook page at the beginning of April. Fans that made reservations were then emailed a certificate with details on how to redeem their RooCup a week before they officially went on sale officially in stores, in effect gifting consumers with seven extra days of 25-cent refills.

Fans could also sign up for the Roo Club to have deals sent to their phone that are later redeemable in-store—a clever move considering that shopper frequency and loyalty are the lifeblood of convenience stores, where price points and margins are often fairly low.

The Creative: The campaign also had a robust social element. Kangaroo Express embraced #RooCup and encouraged fans to customize their RooCups with sparkles, colored straws, decals, colored markers—anything to show what Skiver Executive Creative Director Rob Pettis calls their “inner Roo Spirit.” Consumers who shared photos of their creations on Twitter and Instagram, tagged #RooCup, had the chance to be featured on and the Kangaroo Express Facebook page under the auspicious header “#RooCup of the Week.”

“This is another evolution of the RooCup that is a direct result of the fans themselves,” says Drew Piland, digital marketing director for The Pantry, which operates Kangaroo Express. “Last year we saw fans bedazzling their cups or using permanent markers to decorate and personalize them; by joining this conservation, we were able to connect with fans and build on the excitement they were already creating.”

All of the content featured on—including photos, videos, and comments—is user-generated. Fans were all about their #RooCups and Kangaroo Express was able to realize that fact, and capitalize on it, because the brand was actively listening, Piland says.

“We closely monitor and engage with guests through social media channels and noticed how the #RooCup hashtag was growing organically,” he says. “It was really about joining the conversation and engaging with fans versus trying to lead and generate the discussion; we wanted to have our RooCup fans feel special and also find a way to showcase the great photos we were receiving.”

The Results: Sales were stellar. Whereas, just about 25,000 RooCup lovers reserved their soda chalice for the last week of April 2012, this year Kangaroo Express sold roughly 115,000 RooCups through the preorder campaign. The brand also made an additional 385,000 RooCups available in stores, all of which sold out by Memorial Day.

The Takeaway: As a brand, consumer passion is something you earn—and sometimes you’re just along for the ride.

“Instead of trying to lead fans into our own discussion on the RooCup, we instead used social media and local community activation to engage with fans in ways that they were already looking to do on their own,” Propst says. “By listening to guests in stores and on social media, we were able to identify how fans were already looking to engage with the RooCup and what was taking place organically.”

The Customer View: The #RooCup-tagged tweets and Instagram pics speak for themselves:

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