The famous yellow chicks have been around for 60 years and are now joined by countless other colors, shapes and holidays. What is most remarkable is that they have taken on a life beyond being eaten as candy. There is an annual eating contest (Peep Off), numerous contests, world record competitions and even official art exhibits that feature Peep displays. The website features recipes (PEEPS kabobs anyone?), a "PEEPSonality" quiz, and more products and social media feeds than you can shake a chick at.
Reputable organizations such as the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune host PEEPS contests: where old, hard, stale marshmallows are crafted into a dioramas that draw thousands of on-lookers.
There are also unauthorized recipes on how to infuse them with vodka, ways to make them at home and scientific experiments to test their alleged indestructibility. How did this unremarkable treat from Pennsylvania become such a phenomenon?
It seems to me that they have done a good job of combining an element of tradition with finding ways to create an experience with the concoctions. The contests, Flickr sites, displays and judging all engage people with the product in a tangible way. The PEEPS are no longer a generic, interchangeable candy, but a "must-have": both to make the Easter basket complete and to provide materials for future social events.
What lessons can you take from the Just Born candy company? How can you take your product/service and capitalize on social media to involve others with new uses of what you offer? Can you look the other way and embrace the quirky, irreverent ways that people play with what you produce? Can you do things to actually encourage it?
This Easter, think about the size of the market that can support the making of 5.5 million marshmallow globs each day. They are doing something right -- think of what you can do, and then "hop to it".
--- beth triplett