Starbucks and other "experience brands" need to evolve into the age of brand meaning quickly. Why? Because the brands that win today are ones that drive social agendas.
In its August issue, Vanity Fair charges Microsoft with losing its mojo, pinning much of the blame on CEO Steve Ballmer. While the article makes some useful and valid observations, it never completes the circle, relating them back fully to the larger, underlying issue that ails brand Microsoft: the company has strayed far from the management and proper deployment of its founding vision.
Unbound Edition today launches a new type of marketing interview: one focused on the struggles of bringing great ideas to market, not just recounting the successes of a few big winners. Our belief is there might be more to learn -- and share -- when talking about the roadblocks to “obvious” successes than merely celebrating them after the fact. We think even Starbuck’s CEO, Howard Schultz, might agree, having recently pondered why his next big hit, the Sorbetto, fell flat with consumers. Our first subject: an alternative flour that has made its way into big food companies but not yet to store shelves.
Starbucks earned the “Best Gift to American Workers” award this holiday season. And we’re not talking caffeine or gift cards. While corporate America grinched out, laying off staff, refusing to tackle the ballooning unemployment rate and hoarding cash like Ebenezer Scrooge, Starbucks was there: a 21st century Statue of Liberty, opening its arms to the tired, huddled and suddenly office-less masses and their laptops. Day after day it was hard to find a seat in many Starbucks cafes, co-opted as they were by new, uncertain entrepreneurs trying to get a gig off the ground or scanning the Help Wanted listings.
Starbucks has a brand problem. Everyone knows it. Their founder knows it. And, to Starbucks' credit, the company is taking action. A brand problem, though, is a business problem. It's not a matter of addressing or re-dressing things. It's about operations, about the integrity of processes. Making the promise and keeping the promise of the brand can never be detached from the consumer experience. This is not good news for Starbucks; it's still faking it.
At the risk of crossing Oprah, we question whether the Starbucks “I’m In” initiative was the best way for the struggling coffee giant to tap into the zeitgeist. No doubt the election put a premium on optimism and grassroots participation, and admittedly, the campaign’s execution to date has been flawless, earning major endorsements and plenty of ink. But does a populist rally cry from a company that sells $5 Venti Caramel Frappuccinos trigger anyone else’s BS meter? More importantly, does it translate to sales?
I knew a guy who was worried about his teenage son. He was a good kid, but he was struggling and he had just called to tell his father he was going to drop out of college. Years ago, the father fretted, he’d have shipped the kid off to the military – forced some discipline on him to help him grow up. That had worked for his generation. But the inflammatory world situation no longer made that a viable option in his (or his wife’s!) mind. He was at his wits’ end. So what did he do?
Alright, I am about to step on really thin ice and will likely be accused of being just another snobby European. Here it goes: When will the linguistic globalization finally reach America? Did you know when you order a panini, you technically order a rolls? No, not a typo. Panini in Italian is plural for panino (a roll). I wish they charged you for rolls instead of one roll but they don’t know any better. Same with cappuccino. No, it’s not cappuccinos, Dio mio! See panino, and you will know the answer.
About 7,000 starbucks locations offer a supposedly simple system for letting customers pay with credit and debit cards using square wallet. Starbucks even invested $25 million in the payments startup. So why can't baristas make it work?
Modern service companies like Starbucks and Pret A Manger really, really don't want to let their workforces unionize — not only would it cost them money, it threatens their self-image as benevolent corporations where employees are genuinely happy to work.
What’s caused U.S. firms to lose the most shareholder value in the last 10 years? A new Booz study — actually, a repeat of one it did in 2004 — once again came up with the same result. The culprit wasn’t external shocks like the Great Recession.
“We believe the tea category is ripe for reinvention and rapid growth. The Teavana acquisition now positions us to disrupt and lead, just as we did with espresso starting three decades ago,” Starbucks CEO
To Starbucks, baristas are not just baristas--they are ambassadors of brand, merchants of romance, disciples of delight. The company recently invested millions in a "Leadership Lab" designed to drill that message in for 9,600 store managers. So did it work?
The Seattle-based coffee giant’s year-and-a-half-old mobile payment program may be the largest of any retailer in North America. Even before its recent $25 million investment in San Francisco mobile payments startup Square, the company had been processing a million mobile-phone transactions per week.
Put simply, responsive design is the creation of a single website with a fluid proportion-based grid that automatically adapts to users’ browsers and the devices they are using. This is not a trend—it’s the future.
The $25 million funding and sales deal announced late yesterday between mobile payments startup Square and coffee giant Starbucks is big, but it is only the tip of the iceberg for what the implications will be for Square and for mobile payments in general.
Starbucks has announced plans to open its first tea-only shop by the fall. The concept store, named Tazo after the tea brand they bought in 1999, will be located in Seattle. This follows the company’s first juice bar, ‘Evolution Fresh,’ which opened in the city in March.
"We don't have any interest in being the biggest," said the senior VP-marketing and product management at Caribou. "We don't want to be in every aisle of the grocery chains in America. We'd rather be great at what we do." But Caribou, despite an acceptance of its stature as a smaller chain, hasn't sat idly by.
In an era when entire companies and long-time brands are disappearing, why do Americans trust certain brands and not others? What is trust?
How does a multi-national mega-brand, responsible for crafting a consistent image all over the globe, manage to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of hot-button cultural and political issues in the places where it does business?
The Power of Habit, by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, examines habits good and bad. Duhigg talks us through four companies that found success by swapping business-as-usual routines with smarter habits.
Facebook brand timelines went live this morning, and though we've known about these for a while, some of the executions are pretty impressive, including founding documents, early advertising, memos, news clips and photos. It's as if dozens of little corporate museums just launched on Facebook.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's message about finding common grounds for action has nothing to do with coffee grounds. Shultz is on a campaign to restore confidence in America and the American economy. He wants to ignite a contagious upward spiral of confidence.
Over the past 75 years, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) won a fanatical following with one product: sinfully sugary doughnuts, served warm. "Nothing better than the classic glazed doughnuts," says Rodney Blake, a Philadelphia banker who rarely passes a Krispy Kreme shop without stocking up. "There are other places to go if you want healthy food."
Brand advertising seems to be on its way out. Take Starbucks, which used to advertise its coffee shops. And very effectively, too. Today, the brand is strongly positioned at the top of the coffee-shop market. What's next for Starbucks? The company's recent decision to drop the words "Starbucks coffee" from its logotype seems to indicate where the company is going. According to media reports, Starbucks is in the midst of a transformation from a coffee company to a food and beverage organization
Many companies now have senior officers in charge of customer experience. The executives' role is to define the attributes of the customer experience in partnership with their operational colleagues, organize the customer-satisfaction-measurement process against those attributes, and encourage remedial action wherever warranted. What they hardly ever have, though, is an approach to evolve the design of the customer experience, let alone create a new experience.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is not an empty suit. It's not just that Schultz doesn't favor suits (at the talk I heard him give last week, he was wearing a cardigan sweater) but also that he has a heart, which he is willing to wear on his sleeve, and a mission in life that's not limited to profit.
When Gap introduced a new logo in October, public response was overwhelmingly negative. With Internet speed, someone created a microsite where readers could render their own Gap-like logo. With the outcry of resistance, the logo was quickly pulled and mea culpas were quickly issued by the retailing giant.
Target is following in the footsteps of Starbucks(SBUX_), quietly shedding its name from its iconic bullseye logo. The discounter removed the word "Target" from its Web site, leaving its well-known, red-and-white bullseye to speak for itself.
The Starbucks of the future – if a new prototype renders the concept effective – may serve regional wine and beer, offer locally made cheeses served on china, host a redesigned barista bar where customers are close to the coffee, and be ‘green’ in both design and color. This Starbucks could easily be confused for an established neighborhood cafe, and not a globalized, heavily branded chain location. This prototype Starbucks store is located at a 10-year old location on Olive Way in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area, after being closed for a three-month long redesign.
The generous types among us now have a convenient way to treat friends to Starbucks from afar. Facebook members can give the gift of Starbucks without ever leaving the site, thanks to an update added today to the Starbucks Card Facebook application.
While the tech world obsessed about when Facebook would turn on location and morph into a "Foursquare killer," the social network has quietly become something else: the biggest relationship-marketing provider for many brands.
Starbucks stores nationwide now have free Wi-Fi, but details around the second piece to the coffee retailer’s digital strategy — the Starbucks Digital Network — have been slim. Here’s how Starbucks plans to cater to digital consumers and premium content providers through its Digital Network. The Starbucks Digital Network (SDN) will be available to customers at company-operated stores beginning this fall. With SDN, Starbucks hopes to engineer an in-store, third-place experience like no other by offering exclusive and premium content from hand-picked content providers, including Apple, The New York Times and leading health publisher Rodale.
Starbucks is the first consumer brand to reach 10 million Facebook fans, a.k.a. user "likes." Taking the lead from Coca-Cola over a year ago, Starbucks has attracted 2.3 million fans just in July so far…and the month is only half-over. Starbucks is now in the rarified company of Lady Gaga. In light of its recent privacy flap, Facebook is treading carefully when it comes to brands' presence on the site, including releasing a new video (above) to address users concerned about advertising on their pages. As for how Starbucks shot to 10 million?
Today is the first of July and that means that Starbucks’s no-charge, registration-less and limitation-free Wi-Fi initiative officially goes live at all U.S. and Canadian retail stores. Starbucks first revealed the news a little more than two weeks ago. CEO Howard Schultz also announced that the company is working on its own Starbucks Digital Network in partnership with Yahoo.
I've been thinking about the power of a particular kind of brand leader: founders. Many of the companies I admire are still run by their founders, or the founders at least still play an active role. Often the founders have come back after the company ran into trouble, showing just how important a role they play: Shultz at Starbucks, Dell at Dell, Jobs at Apple, Chuck Schwab at Schwab.
The $20 million of second-round financing secured by the mobile networking service Foursquare will go toward staffing up on engineers, getting offices that can accommodate expanding staff and supporting its rapidly expanding audience of users. Oh yeah, and it's got a revenue model to work out too.
By the time Howard Schultz stepped down as chief executive of Starbucks, in 2000, the coffee chain was one of the world’s most recognizable brands—and on a steady trajectory of growth. Eight years later Starbucks was suffering from a rough economy and its own strategic missteps, and Schultz felt compelled to return to the CEO seat. His previous tenure had seen promising growth, but now he faced a challenging mission: to lead a turnaround of the company he had built. In this condensed and edited interview, Schultz discusses what it’s like to retake the reins in the middle of a crisis.
Starbucks plans to make Wi-Fi free in all its coffee shops, which at this point is about as revolutionary as letting people use the restroom if they buy a scone first. Wi-Fi is increasingly becoming the sort of thing that people expect for free at cafes — like napkins, coffee stirrers and listening to people discuss where their relationships are going. I’d love to play the standard “too hip for Starbucks” card, but the fact is that I’ll occasionally drive through one when I’m in a strange town and don’t want to brave the coffee at some intentionally misspelled place like Kountry Koffee or Coffee Dee-Lite. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have my choice of places that can provide a better latte and a reasonably fat pipe, so free wireless isn’t enough to pull me into a Starbucks for an afternoon of reading MetaFilter while absorbing enough caffeine to kill lab mice. But then I heard that Starbucks is upping the Wi-Fi ante by providing internet content that you can only get at its stores. It’s like Starbucks is turning into a series of little inverse Chinas, keeping out the rest of the world so that only Starbuckians have access to the coffee chain’s proprietary websites.
Starbucks’ coffee drinks have become synonymous with the high costs consumers are cutting back on these days, but at least the Wi-Fi connections in its stores will no longer require a credit card. Starting July 1, Starbucks will let anyone connect to its Wi-Fi network for free. This fall, the company will add a content network called Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo and other sites, which will include local content you won’t be able to read anywhere else. Both offerings will be free.
In retail, success comes with a curse. A long line of retailers have been tempted into rapid store growth to maximize sales, only to hit a wall and need to shrink. Starbucks may be the best example. It likely set a record for the fastest long-term expansion of any big retailer. Morgan Stanley's John Glass says Starbucks added U.S. stores at an annual 27% rate from 1995 to 2005, reaching almost 12,000. That is even faster than the 17% rate of McDonald's from 1965 to 1975.
Audi is inviting the public to submit ideas for electric car designs through July 31, following Fiat's recent user-generated contest inviting consumers to participate in developing a new car. It's the latest high-profile crowdsourcing exercise, which used to be restricted to startups and smaller companies. Now, it's much more common among bigger brands. Pepsi's doing it, while Starbucks has generated over 21,000 ideas from coffee-lovers for new drinks. Dell's three-year-old IdeaStorm has received over 10,000 suggestions from consumers, and claims to have implemented almost 400 of those ideas. Last year, Netflix paid $1 million for a new idea for a movie recommendation system.
A new survey of brands on social media finds Starbucks to be the most popular consumer brand on the social Web, based on an analysis that indexes consumer brands against the most popular personal brand on the planet: Lady Gaga.
Using stencils and high-pressure water sprayers, GreenGraffiti selectively washes down pavement, leaving behind “clean” words and images that gleam through the grime. Street artists have been using the technique, called “reverse graffiti,” for decades, but the firm is among the first to employ it for the purposes of publicity.
Loyalty cards — those little paper cards that promise a free sandwich or coffee after 10 purchases, but instead get lost or forgotten — are going mobile. And merchants are looking for ways to marry the concept to games that customers can play to earn more free items and, it is hoped, spend more money. Instead of collecting paper cards and fumbling through wallets at the cash register, customers are increasingly using their cellphones to track their visits and purchases, and receive rewards.
Comparing Starbucks and McDonald's may not seem to make sense at first, but the two chains actually have a lot in common--namely, they both promise quickie and easy food and beverages on the go, and both companies have recently ramped up sustainability efforts. In the new book The HIP Investor, author R. Paul Herman attempts to compare the two mega-chains. Below, we do the same.
Back in the day—I’m talking about the Mad Men days, the three-martini-lunch days, the “Why don’t we shoot this spot on a yacht in the Mediterranean?” days—people felt that specificity was key when it came to naming a brand. The creative masterminds behind brands like Kentucky Fried Chicken (1952) and Dunkin’ Donuts (1950) made a decision to hit the nail squarely on the head. These names say: “Here we are, and this is what we have to offer.” Or rather, “Maybe you’re not smart enough to understand something abstract, so we’re going to say it exactly like it is.” Well, it worked. In fact, a good many no-frills names are still household staples, like the Ball Park Franks (1959) in your Sub-Zero freezer (1945). But times are more sophisticated. Most of us are equipped with “marketing-dar”—that internal warning bell that goes off when we know someone’s trying to sell us something.
Remember the days of two Starbucks stores on one corner in some cities? That was just the beginning. The brand that many experts said was all washed up two years ago is back, with two consecutive quarters of same-store-sales gains -- and it wants you to drink a lot more of its coffee. Despite a seemingly ubiquitous presence with 11,000 coffeehouses, Starbucks estimates that it holds less than 5% of the brewed-coffee market in the U.S. So the company is looking for ways to get in on more of that business, whether it reaches people through fast-food chains, in their homes or at their desks.
I have already posted my thoughts on Starbucks' move to revamp and repurpose the Seattle's Best brand name. Their new initiative, however, has me scratching my head. They are offering us flavored coffee in the supermarkets via their "Natural Fusions" line, and, amazingly, the Starbucks brand name will be front and center.
Starbucks is brewing a fresh image for Seattle’s Best Coffee, a specialty brand it acquired in 2003. The coffee giant this week kicked off a rebranding effort, which includes a simpler logo and a new tagline, “Great coffee everywhere.” Starbucks hopes to grow Seattle’s Best into a billion-dollar business by expanding it to fast food channels, convenience stores, drive-through restaurants and even vending machines this fall. But the coffee chain faces a challenge presented by competitors like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts; both have rolled out lower-priced coffee drinks aimed at penny pinched consumers. That's why Starbucks is rounding up its best and brightest marketers to lead the rebranding effort.
Though I often like to riff on smart or silly marketing decisions, I'm more interested in the business strategy behind brands. In considering Dell and Starbucks, I'd have to say that both companies are utterly and somewhat similarly lost.
Today, Seattle’s Best is announcing a major push in its distribution: By partnering with other retailers like Burger King, Subway and AMC Entertainment (one of the largest movie theater chains in the U.S.), to add Seattle’s Best coffee to their menus, bumping its distribution by about 30,000 points of sale. Additionally, Seattle’s Best will be dispensing coffee via vending machines, although I’m not clear how or where. Along with this announcement, a radically new logo has been introduced, designed by Seattle ad agency Creature.
After a concentrated period of regrouping and refocusing, Starbucks is on the move -- and its expansion of Via Ready Brew in the U.S. and other markets is a pivotal component of a worldwide push to leverage synergies across business segments, channels and media platforms. It's still early in the game for Via, introduced last September, but the new line's roles within that global game plan as a revenue stream, door-opener and template for ongoing brand expansion is becoming increasingly visible.
Starbucks today (Tuesday) kicked off a new campaign for its Frappuccino brand, touting “however-you-want-it” blended iced drinks. Dubbed "Express Your Love!," the campaign comes as Starbucks tries to grow sales of its priciest drinks, such as the Frappuccino. (The coffee chain recently announced Frappuccino-inspired products, including ice creams and the Vanilla Frappuccino Light drink.)
In the days ahead, a clue to the long-range growth strategy of Starbucks Corp. will become apparent, though not at its vast chain of coffee shops. Instead look down the coffee aisle of your local grocer. Starbucks is rolling out Via instant coffee—so far sold only in its own shops and a couple of retail chains—to tens of thousands of supermarkets, mass merchandisers and other outlets in coming weeks. The product's migration from coffee counter to grocery aisle reflects one of the food industry's hottest trends: putting more restaurant brands like California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang's China Bistro into grocery aisles.
Starbucks (SBUX) is on a mission to turn its Frappuccino into much more than a pricey drink. Hit by the recession and increased competition from Dunkin' Donuts and smoothie chains, sales of the Frappuccino brand have slid the past few years. Executives won't say how steep the slide has been for the blended ice drink that became a $2 billion juggernaut for Starbucks. But any decline is seen as serious for the 15-year-old beverage that accounts for an estimated 15% to 20% of sales at Starbucks stores.
To truly capture the State and Future of Twitter and all that was revealed during its first official conference, requires additional time and space. In Part One, we examined the sociological impact of Twitter on society, the true size of the network, as well as equally exploring its challenges and opportunities. In Part Two, we’ll review and interpret streams, interest graphs, and Twitters new advertising platform.
The following 10 companies stand out as prime examples of how social responsibility can be productively coupled with sound strategies to advance goodwill, while building sustainable and impressive businesses. They provide the leadership to demonstrate how marketers can pursue both objectives simultaneously. As such, socially conscious companies have stepped up their efforts with increasing effectiveness and productivity. It is an impressive movement and one that invites society at large to do even more. Let's use these as examples for "how to get it done" so that we can effectively expand our efforts to give back.
From Facebook Engagement Ads, to Twitter's Promoted Tweets, to SocialVibe, ad opportunities within social media are justifiably drifting away from "display" and towards "engagement." It seems only natural. Click-through rates on display ads surrounding content have been falling precipitously for years, and those same clicks take one clicker in one direction with one experience. This new crop of engagement ads is leveraging the highly connected environments they appear within, turning every interaction with them into an opportunity for rebroadcasting, creating impressions between people that are arguably more effective than the initial impression that started the chain of events.
When it comes to conversations, and specifically those conversations that are deemed valuable, I believe the overriding issue is authenticity. People tend to be pretty good at discerning who is real and who is merely a self-promoter, and power and influence tends to flow to those who are authentic. Do people want to converse with brands? I think that is the wrong question. The right question is "Do people want to converse with people who are authentic in their support of brands?" Starbucks the brand can't talk to you, but a passionate Starbucks employee can.
Twitter’s advertising model is no longer under wraps. The social-networking site’s ad plan, Promoted Tweets, launches today and will work a lot like Google’s AdWords. When users search Twitter for keywords and what people are talking about, Twitter will run ads that marketers have bought to run against the search. The San Francisco company also plans to display promoted posts in streams of relevant user posts
The business of marketing is in the midst of a massive cultural shift. While buzzwords like co-creation, mass-collaboration and crowdsourcing are all the rage, there’s actually a much bigger and deeper change going on with the way work gets done. Three disruptive forces: the expectation of transparency, the further digitization of the workforce and the rise of the curator class, all coupled with the current macro-economic conditions, have changed the world of marketing forever. Like it or not, from professional creatives to consumers, people want to be involved with your brand.
Twitter will unveil on Tuesday a much-anticipated plan for making money from advertising, finally answering the question of how the company expects to turn its exponential growth into revenue. The advertising program, which Twitter calls Promoted Tweets, will show up when Twitter users search for keywords that the advertisers have bought to link to their ads. Later, Twitter plans to show promoted posts in the stream of Twitter posts, based on how relevant they might be to a particular user.
Ever since Facebook moved beyond the college campus and Twitter joined the social media matrix, brands have been trying to figure out what to do with them. Generally speaking, brands are using social networks in a relatively systematic way: 1) Create an account; 2) Run ads; 3) Collect fans; 4) Provide news, offers and promotions; 5) Repeat. But the lines of the digital world and real world are blurring, and businesses should start thinking about how they can take their social media initiatives to the next level. This means looking at new ways to mobilize your social media audiences to take action in the real world.
Heavy velvet curtains, indie movie nights, single-origin coffees, wine and beer, mouth-watering organic pastries and gourmet cheese and meat plates -- this is Starbucks? Well, sort of. It's Roy Street Coffee & Tea by Starbucks Corp, the result of Chief Executive Howard Schultz directing his store designers to break the mold and build a neighborhood coffee house from scratch. The cafe is located in Seattle's eclectic Capitol Hill section, home to a vibrant gay community, grunge rockers, hipsters and mansion dwellers
With its game mechanics and spunky badges, Foursquare could easily be mistaken for a frivolous mobile application with little to no value for businesses. As the startup races to the million member milestone, however, nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve already written about Foursquare’s savvy relationships with major media and entertainment brands and even talked about how it’s changing the world as we know it. In this post, we’ll delve deeper into the big brands and businesses that are experimenting with the platform and finding success with location-sharing.
Starbucks has lately found itself in the middle of a debate between advocates of “open carry” gun rights and of gun control; the former have held armed meet-ups at several of its locations, and the latter have demanded that the coffee chain prevent this from happening. Seeking to duck these fresh salvos in the long debate over how firearms fit into American life, the company has issued a statement that such matters ought to be worked out “in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.” Well, sure. But drawing a line between official institutions of lawmaking and the daily sphere where citizens move about is not so easy. And one thing the pistols-and-Frappuccino moment has demonstrated is that this is acutely true for a business with an image carefully devised to blur the line between public space and commercial space.
In May 1979, a one-year old, bucolic ice cream company named Ben & Jerry's gave away ice cream cones to acknowledge their customers' loyalty. Ben & Jerry's, now a leading maker of premium ice cream and frozen yogurt and a division of Unilever, carries on the tradition today. March 23 is "Free Cone Day" from 12 - 8 PM at more 360 locations spread across the United States. Call it coincidence, but today Starbucks also gave away a free pastry until 10:30 AM, with the purchase of a drink. After a tough 2009, Starbucks is looking at different branding strategies to adjust to changing spending habits and increased competition. Clearly, these venerable brands are on to something.
It was not that long ago when Madison Avenue believed that Web video — also known as webisodes, online video and Web series — would replace television, or at least put a big dent into the ability of TV to reach consumers. Now, however, as more marketers turn to Web video, many are increasingly doing so along with — rather than in place of — television.
Indeed, the results of our 2009 Leading Global Brands study, which includes responses from 20,000-plus global marketers who work on over 200-plus brands across all industries, employed by companies like Unilever, Diageo, and GlaxoSmithKline, indicate that getting the proper local vs. global balance is a top challenge. Almost 65% of respondents confirm that global brands have become more important over the last five years. But only 15% fully agree that their global brands are effectively leveraging their scale. Even fewer believe that their organizations excel at quickly rolling out successful global brand initiatives.
Beginning Thursday, latte addicts who visit Starbucks outlets can get more than just a caffeine fix. They will also be rewarded on Foursquare with a barista badge. Location-based mobile services like Foursquare are at the cutting edge of a transformation in the way offline businesses and their customers interact, by breaking down the barriers between the physical and the virtual.
Starbucks Corp. and some other chain stores in the U.S. are finding themselves caught in the middle of a firearms debate, as gun-control advocates go up against a burgeoning campaign by gun owners to carry holstered pistols in public places. The "open carry" movement, in which gun owners carry unconcealed handguns as they go about their everyday business, is loosely organized around the country but has been gaining traction in recent months. Gun-control advocates have been pushing to quash the movement, including by petitioning the Starbucks coffee chain to ban guns on its premises.
Starbucks coffee was the No. 1 brand tried by consumers in the coffee/tea category in January, earning twice as many mentions as No. 2 Dunkin' Donuts coffee and No. 3 Celestial Seasonings tea in a consumer survey conducted by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions.
Fast food chains have been vying – rather successfully – for a piece of Starbucks' high-end coffee market by offering customers an improved quality coffee and even free Wi-Fi. However, the heated war for consumer coffee dollars just became a little hotter: Enter Burger King.
In case you didn't know, New York City law requires posting calories of items on the menu board. Walk into a Starbucks on the Upper East Side and order a large vanilla latte and you'll see it right there next to the cash price: 320 calories. The idea has spread to California and Seattle, among other locales. It could become a national law. Opponents of the idea cite it as further infantilization of consumers; one more step toward a nanny state, like the Massachusetts law that will require kids have their teeth brushed at daycare centers. On the other hand, supporters who believe it could help reduce the obesity epidemic by making consumers aware of what they're eating, wonder what the restaurants are afraid of. Do they not want to make it easier for their consumers to make informed choices about their health?
It’s been almost two years since Starbucks jumped into the deep waters of social media with their MyStarbucksIdea.com program. This is a website where customers submit and discuss ideas on ways Starbucks can improve its business. Over 80,000 ideas have been submitted and late last year, Starbucks informed us over 50 ideas from customers have been implemented. Cool. Sounds great. Sounds impactful. But wait, let’s take a closer look at these customer-driven ideas Starbucks has "implemented."
Companies need to make money – I get it. And as a capitalist at heart, I generally subscribe to the business practice of charging what the market will bear. But as I’ve learned about the recent pricing decisions of two high-profile institutions of American culture – Starbucks and The New York Times – I’ve wondered if pricing models based on traditional understandings of profit margins and price elasticity can backfire. That is, charging higher prices for certain offerings may make sense on paper – but they actually incentivize the wrong behaviors and reward the wrong customers.
Young people wearing hoodies and chunky glasses are sipping microbrew beers and espressos, nibbling on cheese and baguettes made at a local bakery and listening to a guitarist strum and sing. The scene could be at any independent coffeehouse around the country. Instead, it is at a Starbucks-owned shop called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. The new store, one of two in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood, grew out of a series of brainstorming sessions by a group of Starbucks employees after Howard D. Schultz, Starbucks’ chief executive, told them to “break the rules and do things for yourself.”
In May 2009, Absolut Vodka launched a limited edition line called "Absolut No Label." The company's global public relations manager, Kristina Hagbard, explained that "For the first time we dare to face the world completely naked. We launch a bottle with no label and no logo, to manifest the idea that no matter what's on the outside, it's the inside that really matters."
Starbucks is raising its prices. Again. The brand attributes the increase to its effort to continue providing value while also balancing the company's "business responsibilities." In New York, for example, an extra espresso shot is up from $0.55 to $0.70. Additional syrup is 40 cents, a more than 30 percent increase. A grande triple soy vanilla latte is now $6.25 instead of $5.55. Actually, Starbucks is both raising prices on more complex beverages while slightly lowering prices on a few simpler drinks -- but all the headlines are about the price increase. This price hike might end up working on several levels.
Some have asked, Where does social media live? Is it marketing? Is it public relations? Is it IT or corporate? Is it a combination of multiple business units and functions, and if so, who leads the efforts and how does an organization choose partners? These are valid and complex questions, currently with no simple answers. Social media is still emerging and being defined in real time. There's a question missing from that litany, one that organizations or individuals rarely ask themselves: Do you live social? Many organizations simply skip this question because they assume that they themselves don't have to be social (open and collaborative) to reap the rewards (cost savings, marketing ROI, effective reputation management, and search engine juice) they think they might get from social media.
One of the most memorable things that happened to me when I first came to the US as a snot nosed student, many, many years ago, was wangling an interview with David Ogilvy. Back then, in the early sixties, he was already a legend on Madison Avenue, and deservedly so. At the end of the interview, he offered me this final piece of advice… “Never forget, advertising is about selling.” I next met him twenty five years later, when I was freelancing at Ogilvy. He entered a conference room late one evening where a bunch of us hired guns were drinking warm beer, eating cold pizza and talking shit. After asking us what we were up to, he banged on the table and shouted (he was quite deaf by then) “Never forget, advertising is about selling.”
For those who don't know, Via is Starbucks' recently launched brand of instant coffee. A three-pack of Via costs about $3, and a 12-pack costs $10. Via is available at Starbucks stores and online. The company allegedly spent more than two decades developing Via, focusing on creating instant coffee with a taste profile that at least reasonably approximates in-store coffee. CEO Howard Shultz said, "We took a lot of time with it because we knew it could undermine the company if we didn't do it right." I wouldn't say that Via was as good as a cup of coffee brewed at Starbucks (and truth be told, I prefer Dunkin' Donuts coffee anyway). But in classic disruptive fashion, Via delighted me by substantially out-performing the other options available in my parents' house. It is a great example of a company finding a powerful way to "love the low end."
Get ready for Starbucks Holiday 2.0. The brand is going big in social media this year, having learned that its consumers want to participate in a variety of ways. So Starbucks is pulling back from its Thanksgiving TV buys of the past two years to focus on where its customers already spend time online and drive them into stores.
Starbucks instant coffee was always going to be a tough sell. That's why the company spent years developing it and months preparing its frontline employees (aka baristas) for the Sept. 29 launch of Via, three-packs of instant that go for $2.95. "We took a lot of time with it because we knew it could undermine the company if we didn't do it right," CEO Howard Schultz said this summer. It's too early to say whether Via is a success. But judging from the coffee blogs, including the company's mystarbucksidea.com, for some baristas the pressure to sell Via is intense and unwelcome. "This is the most stressful promotion I have ever experienced, and I've been with the company for seven years," a barista wrote on starbucksgossip.com. Some customers are finding the hard sell a bit exasperating, too. As one wrote: "Please no more high-pressure Via sales pitches. It's annoying … it's completely out of line with Starbucks' vibe."
According to a recent article in USA Today, “simple” will mean to consumers in 2010 what “cheap” means in 2009. In fact, the move to simplify is already underway, because “Simple is better,” as stated in the first line of the article: “Marketers such as Starbucks discover that simple sells.” The gist: consumers like food products that contain as few ingredients as possible...as long as those few ingredients look and feel healthier...and as long as they can pronounce them. Interesting premise. Noteworthy trend.
Starbucks is backing away from its long-held dislike of fast food to partner nationally with Subway. Its Seattle's Best Coffee brand will be in 9,000 Subway stores in the U.S. by the end of this year, and will move into more of the sandwich shops next year, CEO Howard Schultz told analysts during a conference call about its quarterly results Thursday. "Candidly, given the fact that fast-food players have gone after the breakfast business — specifically McDonald's — in such a big way, and made such a big push into coffee, their core competitors want to compete directly with them in that space," Schultz said.
Italian coffee maker IllyCaffè SpA has a stealth plan for moving in on Starbucks Corp.'s turf. By joining forces with independent coffee shops, Illy can get its name in front of more customers without having to buy or rent its own shops. For more than 20 years the closely held company, based in Trieste, Italy, has sold its coffee in high-end grocers such as Whole Foods and in coffee shops, hotels and restaurants in the U.S. Now it's expanding its reach by signing contracts with cafes in the U.S. that agree to serve Illy exclusively and allow Illy a hand in quality control. For the shops, aligning with a premium brand is a way to differentiate themselves from chains and other independent shops—and to charge higher prices.
There has been a flurry of news lately about Barnes & Noble's new e-reader, the Nook. It will compete head on with Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader, offering additional features such as limited book sharing and newspaper subscriptions. If successful, of course, those features will be matched by the Nook's competitors, just as Barnes & Noble has matched their price points. It's fascinating to watch these three powerful companies--the dominant bricks-and-mortar bookseller, the dominant online bookseller, and a long-dominate electronic industry player--compete in this new arena. And word is that Apple's e-reader isn't far behind, which will further mix things up (and will be good for us all).
Simple is better. This could be 2010's most powerful marketing mantra. If 2009's hottest sales pitch was all about buying stuff on the cheap, 2010 marketing will increasingly stress less as more, as in fewer parts, additives or ingredients. While the trend is taking hold in many product categories, including health and beauty items, nowhere is it more apparent than with things we eat and drink. This may be more marketing magic than reality. How can a product made by Kraft, Campbell's or Dreyer's be made to sound as simply healthy as something made fresh in your kitchen? "One way to spin this is talk about how few ingredients your product contains," says Tom Vierhile, product analyst at researcher Datamonitor.
It was not so long ago that employees in most retail environments were held in little regard by marketing teams. Sure, there was some training, but in the main they were under utilized as brand communicators. This was obviously something of an oversight and since the sale of Zappos to Amazon and the 12 page essay on the company in The New Yorker, it's now fashionable to make sure employees are a critical part of your brand arsenal. The latest case is Starbucks who seem keen to shine a light on the diversity and personality of its employee base and is turning to user generated content to collect the stories.
What happens to marketing if mobile phones replace credit cards as a form of payment? It's something marketers need to start figuring out now. Even as more and more tests roll out across the world, marketing strategy is lagging behind new technology. In Japan, mobile payments have been in use for about four years, and about 20% of consumers are using it. But merchants have only recently tied loyalty programs to mobile payment. McDonald's, for example, introduced a loyalty and payment program last year in Japan that lets customers choose their meals, redeem coupons and pay for purchases with their mobile phones.
Starbucks is launching instant coffee. What?! Yes, that’s right. They’ve been testing VIA instant coffee in Chicago, Seattle and London and are now rolling it out in Starbucks stores and other venues across the U.S. and Canada. When it showed up in our Starbucks stores in Chicago this summer, I couldn’t believe it. It is one more example of how they’ve lost their way. Starbucks’ brand is anything but instant.
Starbucks is launching a store-finding and menu-information application for the iPhone, and is testing a second app that will let customers use the phone as their Starbucks card. The two apps are the coffee chain’s first for the iPhone and iPod touch. It has previously offered mobile services, such as the ability to send a text message to locate a nearby store, and has worked with Apple to make in-store songs available through iTunes.
Dropping a total of $2.2 million dollars, South Korea’s Hyundai Card has bought out all media space in the newly opened subway station just outside their building. Next, they put up ads that are largely blank and state, “The world is flooded with too many ads, for a short while we want to leave it empty for you.” White space is an old trick for making an ad stand out, offering a stark contrast with the surrounding cluttered environment. The decision to paradoxically save consumers from advertising with an ad campaign is not necessarily new either, we’ve reported on anti-branding efforts by the likes of Starbucks and clothing brand Freshjive.
Starbucks is looking beyond its own brand to help transform the company. CEO Howard Schultz has described Seattle's Best Coffee, which Starbucks acquired in 2003, as a big opportunity for the company as a whole. Now Seattle's Best will have Michelle Gass, one of Mr. Schultz's most-trusted advisers, at the helm. Ms. Gass is a 13-year company veteran and architect of Starbucks' multibillion-dollar Frappuccino franchise. "Moving [Seattle's Best Coffee] into a distinct and separate business unit will provide the focus necessary to enable SBC's full potential in the specialty coffee marketplace," Mr. Schultz said in a statement.
Starbucks is a brand that grew from the ground up and always flirted with marketing in a a way that it never felt comfortable with. However, given a year of declining comp store sales and an erosion of the brand, marketing appears to be firmly back on the agenda. At a recent Goldman Sachs conference, the CFO of Starbucks talked repeatedly about marketing initiatives that are doing to be driving the company forward.
The Branding Strategy Insider has me thinking about the relationship between brand naming and category domination. They think that dominating a category is more important than extending your brand - no matter how well regarded your brand name is, it simply cannot grow if the category is dying or overly crowded. Kodak is the prime example here: we all know the brand name, but few of us use film anymore and their crossover into digital photography has been rocky. The advice here is to start a new brand in a new category, aka Starbucks, Red Bull and BlackBerry. The idea is to have a narrow focus, get in first and grab deep recognition and reach. Clorox = bleach. Tabasco = hot sauce. That's nice work, if you can get it.
We recently described a lot of ways augmented reality (AR) is going to appear on a mobile device near you soon. But now it's here: The first "real" iPhone AR app has gone live in the iTunes App Store. It's specifically for Parisians. But it's arrived earlier than expected--weeks before Apple said it would be allowed. And by early, we mean it's arrived in the App Store by stealth, snuck in as an added-feature in an update to an existing app--Metro Paris Subway. It's unofficial because technically Apple's is not opening the doors to full AR until it releases the new 3.1 code for the iPhone, which is widely expected in September. This code will add in a few more hooks to make AR apps work in a fully-integrated way with the iPhone's video functions...but it seems that Metro Paris's developers PresseLite have found a way to get it all working pretty well with the existing iPhone 3.0 code.
As the recession wears on and fewer people are splurging at Starbucks, the coffee chain’s response is to raise prices. On Thursday, Starbucks stores in several cities started charging up to 30 cents more for some specialty beverages, though the company is charging less for some basic drinks.
It can invigorate a company's image or squander its brand equity. To see which gambles paid off, Fortune turned to a few experts to judge some of the most dramatic transformations.
Starbucks has been racking up accolades in the digital and social media space. As of July 23, the coffee chain surpassed Coca-Cola as the most popular brand on Facebook, with more than 3.6 million fans, per InsideFacebook.com, an independent blog that tracks the social networking site’s developments. It was also named the No. 1 “most engaged brand” in a report published by Altimeter Group last month. These recent feats are the result of Starbucks’ aggressive digital and social media strategy, said Starbucks digital strategy director Alexandra Wheeler in an interview with Brandweek. That's because Starbucks has moved from “experimenting” to actively incorporating and utilizing social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, in its brand marketing plans.
To marketers in despair, a rebrand may be like a knight in shining armor. How better to re-awaken the passion for a brand than to create a new name and image?! Despite the promise of a fairy tale ending, more rebrands fail than succeed. Executing a rebrand is fraught with challenges and requires some rather subjective decision-making. The stories of two high profile rebranding efforts currently underway – the Sci-Fi Channel and Starbucks — prove this point.
Starbucks' iconoclastic founder has gone through a reeducation in the rigors of running a more typical company. That doesn't mean he has to like it.
Starbucks Corp. built its business as the anti-fast-food joint. Now, the recession and growing competition are forcing the coffeehouse giant to see the virtues of behaving more like its streamlined competitors. Under a new initiative being put into practice at its more than 11,000 U.S. stores, there will be no more bending over to scoop coffee from below the counter, no more idle moments waiting for expired coffee to drain and no more dillydallying at the pastry case.
Remember how crazy, desperate United and Delta got when JetBlue started making cheap flights cool? With those nutty flight attendants' ad libs, TV in the seats and interesting snacks? They thought they couldn't compete with that tonality, so they created two new sub-brands; Song even got Kate Spade to design the uniforms. Starbuck's 15th Avenue may be the Starbucks' version of TED and Song.
Late last week, Starbucks opened a new coffeehouse. Considering they have around 15,000 outlets, this might not seem like news. But there's a wrinkle: the new coffeehouse is called 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea, and is an attempt by SBUX to create a distinct, bespoke, of-the-neighborhood coffeehouse.
Last week the Altimeter Group, run by former Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li, and online marketing firm Wetpaint released a study that analyzed the 100 most valuable brands (according to BusinessWeek/Interbrand) and how they engage across 11 different online social-media venues, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The study was billed as creating an "engagement database" and ranked Starbucks No. 1, followed by Dell and eBay, based on their breadth and depth of social engagement. Google, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Nike, Amazon, SAP and Yahoo/Intel (a tie) round out the top 10. What was eye-popping was the correlation they made between social engagement and financial performance.
Starbucks Coffee Co. appears to be coming out of freefall -- thanks, in part, to marketing by McDonald's. In a third-quarter-earnings call this afternoon, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz credited margin improvements, cost savings and attention brought to the category by its rival's big-budget McCafe launch with helping to improve Starbucks' same-store sales. The chain's same-store sales fell 6% during its fiscal third quarter in the U.S., but that still bests the prior quarter, when same-store sales were down 8%.
A new local coffee-shop called "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea" is opening this week on Seattle's Capitol Hill, only it's not new, nor is it local. It's a test concept from Starbucks that, if successful, could appear in other markets. Interestingly, the names of subsequent outlets would be similarly customized to their locations. This would help give the stores what a Starbucks exec calls "a community personality," as the test shop in Seattle will serve alcohol, host live music and poetry readings, and otherwise do whatever it can to come across as a local indie experience. Is this brilliant branding, or aggressively creative lying?
Starbucks is going back to its premium-coffeehouse roots -- by building premium coffeehouses. The chain, in the latest attempt to negotiate its turnaround, is focusing on stores with smaller-batch coffee, community involvement and entertainment.
When is a Starbucks not a Starbucks? When it's a 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. The ubiquitous coffee-shop giant is dropping the household name from its 15th Avenue East store on Capitol Hill, a shop that was slated to close at one point last year but is being remodeled in Starbucks' new rustic, eco-friendly style.
Starbucks is unveiling a raft of new products tomorrow that represents the largest food launch in the company's history. The chain is staying with its tactic of long-form newspaper ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today to support this push.
"The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms," wrote the poet and social activist Muriel Rukeyser. To the schooled and scientific mind, that may sound sacrilegious, yet we know there is some truth in it. Our lives are a series of stories woven together--our own stories and the stories of those around us. In the business world, many successful top executives are very good storytellers.
Starbucks Corp. is making changes to the way it grinds and brews coffee as it tries to win back customers amid economic weakness and increased competition. Instead of grinding coffee only in the morning, baristas will grind beans each time a new pot is brewed. Timers will buzz to signal when it's time to make a new batch, according to internal Starbucks documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The changes are part of the Seattle-based company's effort to reinvigorate the "Starbucks experience" in the face of competition from less-expensive rivals such as McDonald's Corp. and 7-Eleven Inc. With Starbucks' changes, customers will be able to hear the whir of grinders and smell the aroma of fresh coffee all day.
When Facebook re-launched its fan pages earlier this year, companies were thrilled. At last, there was a solid way to have a presence on Facebook (Facebook), and users were actually responding positively. Within a couple of weeks it seemed as though every major brand had put up a page. However, very few are using them well. Sure, anyone can build a fan page in under 10 minutes, and some big brands may even attract fans without any real effort. But even if you have 3 million fans, if the extent of their involvement with your brand is that at one point they “became a fan,” is that really benefiting you?
Creating a product, service, or brand experience is a puzzle where all the pieces need to be present... and neatly fit together. If you recall some of the best experiences of your life - whether a vacation, a business meeting, or a retail/restaurant experience - I'll bet what made it so great was that "everything came together."
Faced with consumers cutting back on purchases and stiff competition from McDonald’s McCafe, Starbucks today (Wednesday) launched an ad campaign touting its newly earned accolade in Zagat’s 2009 Fast Food survey: “No. 1 Best Coffee.”
Restaurant chains are reaching out to consumers in an unexpected place: supermarket aisles. As the economy has soured, many consumers have ditched going out to eat for a trip to the grocery store, and restaurant chains are following.
Nescafe has found something new to roast: Starbucks. The premium-java chain is launching a nationwide offensive into the instant-coffee market this fall, and Nestle is quick to point out the considerable price difference between it and Nescafe.
Starbucks chief marketer Terry Davenport has a big job these days. The embattled coffee chain is looking for ways to offer value without discounts that would degrade the brand and market without pandering, all while fighting off the onslaught that is McDonald's McCafe.
This week Starbucks announced a title sponsorship of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," the first such cable-news deal in decades. But the coffee retailer's chief marketer, Terry Davenport, said the news and a morning cup of coffee just go together.
The brand I get asked most about -- and the one, frankly, I worry most about -- is Starbucks. Is it simply the poster child for two decades of "trading up" that we're now trading off? Is it doomed to die a tortuous public death by a thousand cuts, as McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts and anyone else with the ability to sell coffee for a buck slices and dices its share? And what's with that earnest, honest print ad campaign? Does anybody read that kind of stuff anymore?
What does it take to damage a brand with a hate campaign? That depends on whether the brand is listening, reacting in real-time, and has a community of its own in social media.
It might not be the answer to Twitter's quest for a business model, but T-shirt company Threadless is betting Twitter's burgeoning user base and built-in viral marketing capabilities mean there's money to be made.
Have you seen Starbucks new campaign? The one designed to remind you of the "Starbucks story?" From the announcement video to the ads themselves, Starbucks is making the first mistake of modern advertising - they're telling you when they should be showing you.
In a new ad campaign, Starbucks wants to tell its message to a new generation of coffee drinkers and then recruit them to retell the story online.
Value. It’s a word you hear tossed around quite a bit in this economy, but not one that applies to every brand, according to a recent report. A survey by Brandindex, a daily measure of brand perception by the London-based firm YouGov taken from January to April, found that some brands, like Starbucks and General Motors’ Hummer are not convincing consumers that they offer value.
Starbucks is trialing a new coffee called Starbucks Via in its London cafés. Unlike the chain's traditional fare, it is an instant coffee that offers consumers the opportunity to enjoy their favourite brew in the comfort of their own homes. What is driving the product launch is no mystery. Via is an attempt to retain sales, albeit less profitable ones, from recession-hit consumers who are spending less on life's little luxuries, like Grande Caffè Lattes.
Last year marked several significant transitions for Seattle-based Starbucks. Howard Schultz returned to the role of chief executive officer, the company shuffled its leadership team, closed stores, introduced new products and shifted its focus from opening new stores to maintaining quality and customer loyalty. Though Starbucks was already in transition before the economic slump worsened, the recession intensified the need for corporate changes. Starbucks is an image company, one in which words matter. In 2009, executives described the coffee giant using a different set of terms than they used in 2007. The word clouds below show us how different.
Today a new chapter in branding and naming comes to life. McDonald's will "drop the mother of all campaigns on you... that will be not so much viral as bubonic." We're talking about a $100 million cross platform campaign to tout their new McCafé coffee brand and send Starbucks into branding history. This McBlitz will be their biggest push since their introduction of breakfast items in the 70s.
In evaluating any creative idea that involves a media campaign, the starting point should be about positioning your brand for success. Marketers are increasingly engaging with consumers on social media platforms and Twitter, in particular, has received, and continues to gain, attention. From shock tactics, to useful value propositions like @amazonmp3 content feed, brands are revealing themselves on Twitter. We are starting to hear of stories about top executives calling meetings about how they should "get on Twitter" and saying, "We need a social media profile." But should they?
Starbucks, the coffee company that built its business on word-of-mouth recommendations, is to reveal “a long term, multi-million dollar” advertising campaign in the US, as it seeks to combat perceptions that its products are over-priced. Howard Schultz, chief executive, said the campaign would “define the fact of what's true and what’s not”.
One of Harvard Business Review’s pieces on marketing in these tough economic times left me feeling ambivalent. In “Five Rules for Retailing in a Recession,” the authors outline how retailers can discover that “a larger universe of growth and productivity opportunities is open to them than they might believe.”
Qwest Communications International has launched a Twitter page to improve customer relations. Seven company reps take turns monitoring @TalkToQwest around the clock in a quest to provide prospective and existing clients one-on-one near real-time support.
What we're seeing is the trend toward brand alliances. Brands that are mutually complementary team up with each other and with their partners' brand missions.
Marketing is a long-term proposition. A company can get in trouble if it changes its marketing strategy to cope with a short-term problem.
Most years, Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive of Starbucks, uses the annual shareholders meeting to introduce a major new product or a cool new piece of coffee-making equipment. Something buzzworthy. At this year's meeting, held in Seattle on Wednesday, there was nothing in the way of buzz, and Schultz introduced nothing new, except for a focus on "value" and a fresh effort to squash the "myth" that "there is a $4 cup of coffee at Starbucks."
Distressed that Starbucks has become the "poster child for excess," CEO Howard Schultz said the coffee company plans to run an ad campaign proving its coffee isn't expensive.
For audiences, brands are simply personal collections of events that make up a total overall experience. It’s a real-time running tally of the things people feel, whether good, bad or indifferent, at every point of contact with a brand, every exposed surface. But most of the time and money spent on marketing is focused on just a handful of media and at specific moments in time.
As the economic meltdown continues to challenge our very premises about brands and selling, I'm intrigued to watch two well-known names respond to our dire circumstances in somewhat similar ways.
Convenience store 7-Eleven is ramping up its efforts to grab some Starbucks. The company is aiming to woo cash-conscious consumers--who still crave premium java--away from higher-priced brands with a trio of new blends: Colombian, Exclusive Blend and the stronger Brazilian Gold, all included in the chain's hot beverage bars.
A panel of seasoned Ad Age newsroom coffee junkies surprised themselves Wednesday when they were unable to tell the difference between Starbucks' new instant coffee and the chain's in-store brew. The blind comparison taste test was conducted with some of the first samples of Via, the "soluble" powdered coffee Starbucks is launching this month.
Known for pouring exotic brews from Sumatra or Rwanda, Starbucks, the gourmet coffee-shop chain, is introducing a product that instead might evoke a dusty shelf in a local supermarket: instant coffee. On Tuesday in New York, Howard Schultz, Starbucks's chief executive, said the company would begin selling packages of Via Ready Brew, an instant coffee, in Seattle and Chicago Starbucks outlets starting March 3 and in London on March 25.
Sanka, Folgers Crystals and ... Starbucks? The upscale coffee chain plans to dignify the much-maligned instant-coffee market with its next big product launch, called Via. The water-soluble beverage will be sold at the chain but will be billed as a way to be your own barista by making Starbucks-tasting beverages at home.
Premium java giant Starbucks is venturing into what some would consider lowbrow territory with a soluble-coffee product called Via, according to three executives familiar with the matter.
Struggling Starbucks is about to seriously enter the "value" zone. On Monday, the gourmet coffee chain that's been losing business at quite a clip of late, will unveil plans for its first value menu: $3.95 will get you a latte with coffee cake or drip coffee with hot sandwich.
Folgers, Maxwell House, and Starbucks are America's best-selling ground coffees. But all three were iced by Eight O'Clock Colombian coffee in our taste tests. As for Starbucks, it didn't even place among the top regular coffees and trailed among decafs.
Score one for McDonald’s... at the expense of Starbucks and all of the other high-brow coffee shops peddling pricey lattes, cappuccino, espresso and all manner of caffeinated concoctions.
Starbucks, hammered by the contracting global economy, is taking the ax to its once unstoppable coffee empire. Equally unthinkable: Breakfast value meals are on tap.
Starbucks' campaign to promote volunteerism (and store traffic) got a huge bump today from no less than Oprah Winfrey -- and by extension, Barack Obama.
Americans appear to be cutting back on their Starbucks. After reporters in several different cities noticed much shorter lines at their coffee outlets, Ad Age decided to commission Lightspeed Research to find out whether either New Year's resolutions or a tough economy were turning latte sippers into bean counters.
As the economic slump puts the brakes on discretionary spending, kitchenware retailers and coffee-machine manufacturers are plugging everything from coffee beans to gleaming, $3,000 café-style espresso makers as ways to save money.
Starbucks is launching a major marketing initiative called "I'm in" next week tied to the inauguration and rooted in community service. The push will encourage latte lovers to visit soup kitchens, read to the blind or otherwise commit to give back. Details of the supporting ad buy are still sketchy, although broadcast TV will be the lynchpin.
We've had the breakfast wars, the double cheeseburger wars and the coffee wars. Now, welcome to the oatmeal wars.
Amid projections that it won't see improved same-store sales until 2009, the coffee chain today launches a full-scale holiday promotion with Project Red including TV ads from new agency BBDO themed, "It's more than coffee."
Competition? Sure. Rotten economy? No doubt. But there's a larger, deeper reason the green giant is drinking the dregs: It ignored everything that made its customers loyal.
Given its recent financial struggles—at the core of which are weak sales that have forced the closing of about 600 of its U.S. stores through the first half of fiscal year 2009—the question many people are asking right now is: Can Starbucks get its mojo back?