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Milking Customer Loyalty

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To establish contact with its customers, Stonyfield Farm stamps "Let us hear from you" on the back of its yogurt cartons. Stonyfield also communicates to its fans through its newsletter, Moos from the Farm, where it introduces new products and promotions. By encouraging fans to spread the word about its products, the New Hampshire maker of "farm style" yogurt was able to get into supermarkets and compete with much bigger companies.

In the early 1990s, Stonyfield announced an "Adopt-a-Cow" program, which encouraged frequent purchases and educated young customers about where the company gets its milk. Consumers who bought five cartons of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, or 10 servings of its newest frozen yogurt, received a free photo and biography of a cow that produced milk for the company, an adoption certificate, plus a free subscription to the newsletter. Demand far exceeded the number of cows, so many consumers shared their adoptees.

The result of the program was increased sales -- but more important, the company received publicity from area newspapers and magazines. The press coverage helped Stonyfield get exclusive frozen yogurt accounts, such as the University of Connecticut and Au Bon Pain, a bakery with more than 120 shops nationwide at the time. The bottom line? "Word of mouth builds better loyalty than advertising," says Samuel Kaymen, chairman of Stonyfield Farm.




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