In-N-Out Burger’s “Drink Cup” Shoes Sellout, But is it Part of their Branding Strategy?

Published on February 11, 2020

In-N-Out burger’s “Drink Cup” inspired slip-on shoes spread like its signature sauce all over social media, selling out. Proving the company’s word-of-mouth branding strategy is worth taking note of.

The SoCal palm tree burger chain sells merch online to its loyal followers, but when it announced laceless slip-on sneakers for Valentine’s day, they didn’t go very far. Selling out in days.

The Drink Cup Shoes original price was $64.95 for adults and $39.95 for children. But with limited supply comes higher demand. And some are taking full advantage by selling the shoe four times its original price.

Commitment to Quality Burgers, Fries and Milkshakes

The shoes sparked a conversation but In-N-Out burger’s success starts with its quality. By staying family owned the company champions its ethos by only serving fresh local produce cooked without artificial ingredients. 

Plus, restaurants have no freezers, heat lamps, microwaves and the food is prepared fresh, in-house. Featuring only five items on their menu: a hamburger, cheeseburger, double-double, fries, and a shake.

And one of the reasons the company keeps its locations limited is to keep them within the distance of their three butcheries to keep produce fresh.

AdWeek says the brand “won’t build a restaurant further than a refrigerated semi-truck can drive in one day from one of its three butcheries.”

Consistency Builds Trust

In-N-Out’s slow and limited expansion is what mystifies its food, and reassures consistent quality food is flipped on the grill, cultivating a loyal fast-food customer base. 

In fact, In-N-Out burger topped the list for the highest customer loyalty. With 62% of respondents saying: “their last visit to each chain was motivated by the brand and not by convenience.”

And that’s because of their burgers, fries, and milkshakes consistency. Leading to trust, resulting in a strong emotional connection, and turning customers into brand advocates. 

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategy

With customers becoming brand advocates, In-N-Out is able to spend less on advertising than its competitors. 

Plus, the company’s involvement and contribution to communities is another reason customers love In-N-Out. Contributing to their word-of-mouth awareness that helps maintain their popularity.

In-N-Out’s involvement can be seen on its social media. January was human trafficking awareness month and the company contributed to the cause and said, “[we] will match all Human Trafficking donations 3-to-1 up to $250,000.”

Its foundation page also highlights the company’s commitment to helping communities and asks everyone to “join us in helping our communities become stronger, safer and better places to live.”

By helping communities, In-N-Out tapped into the power of social currency to help boost its sales.

And every foodie cannot forget one of In-N-Out’s secret weapons: their “secret menu”. Offering more options off their five-menu item. Like the famous animal style fries or Neapolitan milkshake. 

Taking Care of Your Employees

Not only does In-N-Out take care of its customers, but also their employees. Store managers can make a salary upwards of six figures. And employees make well above minimum wage.

And according to employee reviews on Glassdoor, full time and part-time employees receive dental and vision, a free meal each shift, presents annually, and many other benefits. 

Proving that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. 

In-N-Out Sues Puma Over Drive Thru Sneakers

In March 2019 In-N-Out filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Puma over the Cali-0 Drive-Thru sneakers.

“By using In-N-Out’s designs and trade dress, Puma and Cherman intentionally confused consumers for their own benefit and have also created the impression that our marks and unique trade dress are available for public use,” Arnie Wensinger, executive vice president of In-N-Out Burger said in a statement to NBC4 Los Angeles.

While the shoe caused controversy and many talked about it, it goes to show that In-N-Out is sticking to quality over quantity, which has paid off for the company.

Kevin Pichinte is a staff writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is a news associate at ABC7 and was formerly a digital news intern at NBC7 and TLM20. At Grit Daily, he covers entertainment and culture news.

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