Why Coke sells bikes and VW sells fire pits

Most major brands offer promotional items featuring their logos — ball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs, maybe golf balls.

And some sell products related to their categories, such as BMW’s driving gloves.

But few sell logoed products outside their categories. Only affinity brands can do that.

That’s because, for loyal fans of an affinity brand, buying the core product isn’t enough.

Lovers of Jack Daniel’s whiskey aren’t content merely to sip it; they want to sit in a Jack Daniel’s chair while doing so.

A recent article in The New York Times reported on a new partnership between Coca-Cola and HSN, one that doesn’t involve soft drinks. Instead, Coke merchandise will be sold on the home shopping network in the categories of apparel, home decor and sporting goods, among others.

Affinity brands, such as Jack Daniel’s and Coke, inspire a community of diehard evangelists, drawn together by a shared goal or belief system. Typically, consumers identify with affinity brands because they represent something other than profit-making. Examples include Patagonia (environmentalism), Whole Foods (sustainability) and Harley-Davidson (freedom of expression).

Brand evangelists love to fly their colors, which, for brands, can be profitable. The New York Times reports that Coke estimates its licensing program “is responsible for more than $1 billion in annual retail sales, at stores owned by Coca-Cola in cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas and Toyko; at stores owned by retailers like Target and Walmart; and online, at the Coca-Cola Store Web site and Web sites operated by others like Amazon.”

As a service to BrandSTOKE readers, here’s a few outside-the-category affinity-branded stocking stuffers to add to your holiday shopping list:

This entry was posted in brand essence, loyalty, promotion, retail.

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