NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Six years after test-launching its DVD vending-machine concept at Denver-area McDonald's restaurants, Redbox is resonating with recession-bitten families across America searching for affordable ways to have fun.
"We've been fortunate to see a lot of growth before the recession, and through the recession," said Gary Cohen, senior VP-president of marketing and customer experience. The Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based marketer was born in 2002 and has steadily grown its presence to nearly 25,000 kiosks housed at big-box retailers, Walgreen's, McDonald's and leading grocery and convenience stores such as Kroger, Albertsons and 7-Eleven in all 50 states.
It has witnessed its biggest growth spurt in the past year, and that's something the company believes it has been able to achieve thanks to two key points: learning how to listen to customers and striking up powerful marketing partnerships with retailers. That growth spurt is evidenced in the numbers. At the start of 2010, Redbox had 30,000 Facebook fans; today, it has more than 1.5 million. Its iPhone app -- which permits users to find the nearest kiosk and reserve movies -- launched about a year ago and has so far seen more than 2.5 million downloads.
"We've created an enormous group of advocates, and that's what really powers the Redbox brand and our marketing strategy," Mr. Cohen said. Rather than test-driving Redbox services to see how consumers respond, the company has been directly connecting with its fan base via mobile and direct-mail channels to learn what the next thing is consumers are looking for. Redbox has about 1.7 million consumers signed up to receive text messages, and that number is growing by about 100,000 a month. It has more than 20 million consumer email addresses.
Consumer requests for a more convenient return program, for instance, spurred Redbox to launch its "rent and return anywhere" program.
Landing on the list of America's Hottest Brands is appropriate for Redbox as it's not planning to export its brand overseas anytime soon. "We're seeing a lot of growth potential here in the States, and as of now, that's where we're focused," Mr. Cohen said.