Digital Marketing Redux   //   October 23, 2023

Inside Nugget’s clue-drop marketing campaign strategy

When modular couch brand Nugget teased the introduction of a new product color late last month, the company wanted to lean into the brand’s playful image.

The company launched its Magical Mystery Clue Hunt, where it dropped clues every other day to encourage fans to guess the new color of its product. The company tucked clues into its limited-edition green Nugget boxes that it shipped to customers during the activation period, emails as well as social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok ahead of the launch. By the end Magical Mystery Clue Hunt marketing campaign, Nugget introduced Dragonfly, which is a reimagined version of its fan-favorite lush green Beanstalk color.  

On day one of its campaign, Nugget’s site traffic was up 44% from the previous year thanks to the campaign. Nugget also saw a 2% bump in sales and engagement rates across all its social channels were three to five times higher than the average day during the campaign. Maria Lopez-May, marketing vp at Nugget, said that Nugget has a highly engaged social media following of over 533,000 on Instagram alone.      

“People were really engaged in terms of what we’re posting and just seeing what the latest clue was,” Lopez-May said. “It was really fun for us to see that this really did become a community initiative, which is what we have planned.” 

Nugget was founded back in 2014, initially to offer a better alternative to futons and quickly gained a following among millennial moms. During the pandemic, Nugget was notoriously difficult to buy due to the influx of demand. Resellers had even been selling Nugget for $500, more than double its retail price at that time. The company had even started doing limited drops and developed a lottery system to give people the chance to make a purchase.  

To date, the company has had over a million orders placed and over 50,000 five-star ratings. Lopez-May did not share specifics around the company’s revenue figures but said that business has been “leveling out.” Nugget has 17 colorways and its products — such as couches, covers and liners — are currently sold purely on its direct-to-consumer website.

“We saw such unprecedented growth during the pandemic,” Lopez-May said. “We’re currently on a much more steady path.”

The Magical Mystery Clue Hunt marketing campaign started on Sept. 28 and ended on Oct. 11. Although the company did not offer any rewards for people who guessed correctly, Nugget still received thousands of comments on every post from fans speculating about what color would drop. In a TikTok video early this month, English actor Adam Brown, who played Ori in The Hobbit trilogy dropped one of the clues by describing scenes from the film. 

This isn’t the first time the company dropped clues to get people to guess its next colorway. Three days before it announced the Mickey Mouse-inspired Nuggets late last year, the company posted a photo on Instagram with a hidden Mickey somewhere in the frame. In 2021, the company posted a photo of a tiny house with a pink door to tease the release of its Lolly color.  

Lopez-May said that engagement bumps up whenever Nugget drops a clue. For example, when it released a hint for its Toy Story Nugget, engagement bumped up 3.8%. “We wanted to just engage [and] bring some excitement into our super fan community,” she said. “We know that playing games is something that they really love. Just like us, our consumers are kids at heart.”

Richard Hanna, professor of practice in the marketing division at Babson College, said that a gamified approach to marketing can be an effective way to influence behaviors or get people involved. However, he said that it can be challenging for brands to make the rules fun and less frustrating for shoppers.

“You get a sense of being part of a community,” he said. “You’re seeing all these people involved, that is giving you social proof that you have permission to play this game.”

Nugget’s Lopez-May said that the company is planning to drop another color this year. Next year, she said the company will be focused on attracting new parents to the brand.