Since 1985 Cinnabon has been steadily expanding to malls, restaurants and kitchens across the world. The pastry peddling chain has more than 1,100 locations throughout 54 countries. By year’s end, consumers will have scarfed down more than 100 million cinnamon rolls. Bloomberg Businessweek’s article “Cinnabon President Kat Cole: Hustling the Gut Bomb” reveals that the chain’s success comes from its exceptional branding efforts.
The brand “Cinnabon” is mentioned every 10 seconds on social media. The chain seems to have a cult following, making the bakery’s signature item, the Classic Roll, an iconic image. Consumers in focus groups admit to experiencing anxiety on the way to Cinnabon because they fear someone in line will get the last fresh roll. Consumers pay $3.69 for a Classic Roll, but it’s not the price they’re worried about. Customers in focus groups have “expressed horror” at the company’s considerations to cut the calories in a Classic Roll. For the die-hards, it’s the roll’s 880 calories that drives a change in demand. Cinnabon’s market research has shown that many of their customers are simply looking to splurge on an unhealthy treat. Since other firms offer similar sweet replacement goods, cutting the calories in a Cinnabon would change demand immensely. The customers who are looking to eat something because it’s unhealthy will find other places to get their sugar fix.
Cinnabon reached its current point of notoriety through seemingly avoiding competition. Rather than compete with food industry giants, Cinnabon teams up with them. The Cinnabon brand can be found on General Mills products, Keebler cookies, Taco Bell menu boards, Burger King menu boards and even on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in the near future. With Cinnabon’s products stretching beyond their own physical locations, annual retail sales reach $1 billion. It’s an interesting concept for Cinnabon to expand their reach by offering their products in stores that might have otherwise been competitors. Cinnabon is a small firm when compared to the restaurants its products are sold in. “The brand punches way above its weight,” said Kat Cole, the president of Cinnabon. She told Businessweek that rolls essentially sell themselves through appearance alone. “Its almost pornographic,” she said. “It’s just so over-the-top, it’s a sensory experience.”