When Royal Crest Dairy needed to deliver a fresh marketing experience they came to estound.

When Royal Crest Dairy needed to deliver a fresh marketing experience they came to estound.

Prepared for 

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How it Started

Royal Crest Dairy has almost a century of history as a front-range milkman. They’ve served the Denver Metroplex since 1927 and are one of the last remaining distributors of their kind in the US. Rain or shine during the dark hours of the morning, a fleet of Royal Crest drivers deliver fresh milk, butter, cream, and an assortment of other fresh foods to white milk boxes on doorsteps. These unique weekly deliveries guarantee quality and freshness, creating a presence as an integral part of the Front Range community, but in 2018 parts of this heritage were aging. 

"From order cards to a truly digital customer engagement platform estound has risen to every challenge we handed them."

Darcie Ramirez, Royal Crest Dairy Marketing Manager

The Problem

Until just a few years ago, the company operated in much the same way it had for decades: word of mouth was the extent of marketing, and the rest was door-to-door sales. Investment in advertising or marketing of any kind was minimal. The marketing function was an “hour-a-day, maybe” commitment from one part-time employee. The company was experiencing diminishing returns. They knew they needed to adapt to a changing marketplace. 

When Royal Crest Dairy hired estound for digital marketing, the website was a basic HTML site that looked like websites from the early internet days of the dot-com era. Their entire customer-facing system was either call or paper-based. If a customer wanted to sign up for home delivery, they could not do it directly; they needed to call-in or submit a request for a house call from a sales representative. Administration and operations were run with an S400 which meant that customers had to mark down their orders by pen or pencil onto physical cards that they’d put in their milk boxes. In the middle of the night, the driver on their route would take the card and get their order from standard inventory on their truck, or customers had to call to change their weekly order. Everything needed to modernize, and we were glad to help.

A Growing Partnership

Marketing agencies often find themselves downstream from strategy, only executing tactics. estound worked hard to achieve a position where we could meaningfully impact strategy and branding by putting their customers in the driver seat. We took the pulse of customers’ opinions, so that we could advise with real-time, data-driven solutions that are a routine process for us. 

Today, Royal Crest is well on its way to becoming a premium brand — not because that was what the client asked us to do, but rather because it was what their customers wanted. 

We cannot take credit for all of the following incredible changes, but we have been there to support them with the customer insights, advice, and marketing communications every step of the way. 

The relationship Royal Crest has with its customers is far more influential to their success than anything we’ve done, so the credit is theirs. Our credit was making sure the marketing component of their business shined. As such, marketing for Royal Crest has become a two-way street. Our strategy was to engage with younger audiences, ask them how they perceived Royal Crest and gauge what they wanted, then evolve the brand to better align with them. 

One critical takeaway was that customers wanted Royal Crest to be a premium brand, so we evolved the marketing and service offering toward that position as we approached 2020. Through customer feedback in surveys, as well as interviews with potential customers and even past customers, our insights helped Royal Crest bring the Voice of Customer into their boardroom. We delivered the clarity they needed to develop a custom-tailored marketing system that generated a return. The resulting data-driven approach modernized and revitalized their brand, operations, and offerings with confidence, greater speed, and agility. 

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“There’s no way we could have done it without them [estound].”

Darcie Ramirez, Royal Crest Dairy Marketing Manager

How estound helped

Royal Crest’s primary advantage over competitors like Amazon rests in its rich heritage and position within the Denver community. However, there were two big problems to solve when estound was brought aboard. First, the paper-based ordering model alienated younger audiences — the very audience they needed to capture. Second, the brand was known for milk delivery, not food delivery. Milk delivery would lose to competitors like Amazon’s more comprehensive Fresh delivery service over the long run.

Royal Crest Dairy engaged estound initially to rework their website and develop a change order app for customers. Our team combined traditional dairy farm heritage with modern presentation. The impact was to make younger audiences feel at home but also proud to take part in that long-standing tradition. The new website helped streamline customer service while bringing the brand forward, but more importantly, it allowed us to build awareness and vision for a digital transformation. 

Before we discuss our successful expansion into this broader market we need to address the growth story for the market as a whole. Data from Brick Meets Click and Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey shows a 600% increase in online grocery store sales with delivery/pickup options, from $1.2 billion in August 2019, to a high of $7.2 billion in June 2020. In 2020 by the time the Covid pandemic hit, the website was transitioning to a new ERP tied to an e-commerce front-end. Once this was in place, Royal Crest was in a much more competitive position, but they were also competing with Amazon for customers. They needed to find a position in the Front Range food distribution market with a sustainable advertising budget and identifiable return.

The rocket ship of growth made most grocers buckle under pressure, shelves were empty and food delivery was scarce for a period of time. At times, they had to notify customers when items went out of stock or deliveries were postponed, so our campaign needed to synchronize with their ability to deliver and satisfy customers so that the spike in interest would lead to a sustainable improvement in their customer base.

Almost overnight Royal Crest’s grocery delivery competitors were swamped by orders. Delivery times increased and products were scarce on store shelves. We saw this as an opportunity for Royal Crest to step up into its role as Denver’s premium food delivery service. Our display ads kept pace with their expanding product offerings while also developing the brand rapidly from premium dairy to fresh grocer.

Royal Crest’s new marketing strategy helped accomplish two things. First, they improved communications to help loyal customers adapt and appreciate the massive ordering and subscription processes changes. Second, we began the shift in Royal Crest’s role as a dairy company into a more holistic local grocery distributor, which helped retain the influx of families that relied on Royal Crest during the pandemic. 

Summary of estound’s work for Royal Crest Dairy

Website and order system update in 2018

Full-Service Strategic Marketing Management since 2019

Marketing Consultation, Strategy, Development & Automation

Surveys — Market and Customer Profiling, Customer retention, New product concept, Exits, New product demand, habits and uses

Traditional Media Strategy & Management — Direct Mail, Booth Design, Billboards, Video Ads (including Cable), & Radio Ads

Email marketing, Social media and reputation management

Graphic design on all materials

Website design/development

Tracking, Analytics & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ad Retargeting

PPC Ads across all platforms

Win-Loss Analysis

The Results

Royal Crest continues to expand their product selection further, but they have successfully carved out a sustainable position in the online grocery delivery market. Marketing and Sales should be closely aligned, but many B2Cs struggle in this regard. With this key proficiency, Royal Crest was able to expand from its niche into one of the fastest-growing markets in the US. 

Now, customers navigate to royalcrestdairy.com for all of their sign-up, management, and e-commerce options. The marketing function within Royal Crest has grown to 1.5 full-time employees who help to orchestrate a comprehensive digital marketing campaign across email, social media, web, search, and traditional media channels. Royal Crest was able to transform very quickly despite changing leadership and a global pandemic, and that adaptiveness continues to bring Royal Crest big victories. 

 

By successfully joining the market during an expansion period, Royal Crest accessed the grocery market’s 600% lift during the pandemic, AND continued to grow far beyond the industry average. Even though there were record requests for service from January to July, signups have continued to outperform the pre-covid era. Most of the customers who joined during the worst of the pandemic have continued receiving service.

As a result, Royal Crest’s customer base grew exponentially for a period of time. This was partly due to changing customer behavior as a result of the pandemic, but the trick was to keep all of their traditional customers happy through this rapid transition while also building new relationships that lasted beyond the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the best month brought about 21k new users to the website, after the pandemic and beyond, the worst month brought 29k new users to the website. The bounce rate continued to be exceptionally low (5.95%) as our marketing continues to bring in hungry Front Range families.

“Business has definitely been good. We’ve been acquiring more customers, and customers are spending more than they did.”

Darcie Ramirez, Royal Crest Dairy Marketing Manager

“What I like about estound is that they took us to one place with prior leadership, but since then they’ve really helped to take us to the next level.”

Darcy Ramirez, Royal Crest Dairy Marketing Manager

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