Starbucks Marketing System

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Starbucks is at the forefront of developing innovative marketing strategies across different platforms to connect to their customers. The company’s social media presence includes active twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, through which Starbucks gives away coupon codes and alerts about promotional sales. Their social media campaign is a constant opportunity for new connections. Starbucks is currently operating over 18,000 stores in 60 countries (Gibb, 2013). The ever-increasing customer base creates a wealth of opportunity for potential interactions across media platforms. The public nature of messaging board promotions and online discount codes allow users of the different media to share and promote a brand. Starbucks maintains a digital presence across all of the most popular sites, and allows its customers to do most of the promotion in the form of digitally sharing information.

From these social media platforms, customers who frequently purchase brand products can take part in a conversation amongst each other. This strategic connection is facilitated by Starbucks use of promotional deals to encourage brand loyalty. For example, if two friends have the same popular user app that allows access to deals on Starbucks products, the social implication that these people would get together and decide to get coffee is increased. This creates the potential of a social interactions leading to conversation about the brand, from which strong consumer ties develop.

The key to forging a conversation among consumers on social media platforms is responsible management of social media. An efficient social media manager is a useful marketing team member in this regard. Ideally, a store account should provide a mixture of new information, and customer responses. The most successful brands use a blueprint of updating accounts multiple times a day and responding to consumers (Moth, 2013). These responses in the form of Facebook posts or tweets are a simple idea that is easy for any brand to follow the example of, and many do. Starbucks currently stands apart from other brands in management of social media, adopting an almost lax policy of tweeting and updating posts. This does not have any impact on their popularity in these mediums; the company has one of the top follower rates on social media sites as compared with brands as big as Walmart even though it maintains a much less aggressive social media presence than its competitors. Starbucks is easily accessible on the most popular social media; in fact the company has a Pinterest board encompassing over 76,000 followers (Moth, 2013). Starbucks facilitates customer conversations by letting them guide a large majority of the company’s digital interactions.

Representatives respond to customer questions and complaints as well as posting a mixed variety of promotional offers, but to a much lesser extent than other franchises do. Yet Starbucks continuously attracts a wide audience, the official twitter feed has more than 5 million followers (Twitter.com). One look at the most recent tweets shows the company consistently posts three or fewer new threads per day, and keeps the interactions with followers polite, and at times humorous. Starbucks is clearly not trying to fill up anyone’s feed with posts that could be perceived as annoying spam mail. Instead, the company maintains an aloof presence on digital media to the point of being recognizably different from other companies.

Starbucks has innovated market strategies that have helped to encompass several technological promotions at once. One marketing plan that the brand has implemented in the past was the “Tweet a Coffee” campaign (“Starbucks,” 2013). This venture created a twitter account @Tweetacoffee, from which followers can easily send $5 redeemable e-coupons to people via their twitter account (@Starbucks). It is an instantaneous way to share the gift of coffee, yet another way in which Starbucks facilitates real-life social interactions via online communication. The account has been active for little over a month and only followers one other user, the Starbucks brand verified account. The page itself is very clean; users cannot scroll through for far back before finding that tweets have been deleted. This simple idea has the ability to facilitate a new appreciation by customers for their afternoon pick-me-up.

Starbucks has cornered a large part of the coffee market by targeting different demographics and global markets with their advertising strategies. The company has designed multiple accounts for online purposes, and continues to market through other media in various ways. Their products are designed to appeal to an array of groups; the office worker, the full time parent; the college student. All are vast customer bases with whom it is essential to interact with differently. One example of how the company does this is through examining its cross-promotional motivation (Gibb, 2013). A picture of whichever new blend the company is promoting will be simultaneously posted on Instagram, attached to a tweet, and made into a thumbnail link to be shared on Facebook.

These social media platforms connect Starbucks with the audience to which they are marketing coffee products, and additionally provide an outlet for the company to acknowledge its commitment to community service. Starbucks has made public the names of various charity associations it supports, promoting certain shared values. The Starbucks Foundation is an established charity that has historically funded literacy programs in North America and continues to give support to communities worldwide (Starbucks.com) Modern marketing interaction is all about building a reputation for a business as having excellent customer service. For employees of the company, this means ensuring that people walk out the door of a business satisfied with the reason they came. For a marketing team, it is important to first attract new customers, and also bring back returning purchasers. Harnessing technology platforms effectively promotes a brand as customers are able to receive rewards for membership loyalty, offer deals to friends, and save on future orders.

At the same time Starbucks targets different demographics with alternating marketing tactics, the company facilitates current customer relationships with promotional deals offered via social media network. Offers such as “buy 1 get 1” encourage sharing of positive experiences between customers, combined with brand interactions as well (Gibb, 2013). A promotional holiday sale means an increased customer interest in giving Starbucks gifts, in the form of merchandise or pre-loaded gift cards.

Creating a connection between a brand and some sort of socially relevant cause is a great way to foster a community connection. Starbucks has consistently proclaimed public support for charities and organized movements timely to the general public interest. For example, as healthcare is currently a topic of contested debate across the United States, Starbucks has published on its website a public declaration of the company’s dedication to providing accessible healthcare to its employees (Starbucks.com). This is a simple way in which the brand can demonstrate values that align with common ethical beliefs, and provide assistance to the community at large.

Many of the marketing strategies that Starbucks currently employs are proven effective in maintaining and fostering a connection between customer and brand. These techniques include keeping up with an active social media presence, offering promotional deals across different platforms, and giving loyal customers an incentive to share their Starbucks experience with a friend or family member.

Media Plan

Starbucks is a recognized coffee brand that has over the years defined a wide target audience of consumers. The Seattle brand has expanded in physical location and across social media networks as well. Starbucks has an active Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts and remains in the public eye through accessible use of these mediums. The company has large amounts of followers across the digital realm, which translates into an expanded consumer base and vigorous presence in the product market. The Starbucks verified twitter account updates infrequently when compared to its competitors, and Starbucks Facebook goes days without posting new threads. It is in the company’s interest to implement new social media objectives and reach a wider audience through increased user interaction across digital platforms. Starbucks will be able to do this under specific and directed management of social media accounts. This plan will include comprising a schedule of promotional deals that can be shared by users across various sites. Details of this plan will include extensive social media usage analysis of the target demographic. The primary population, which these marketing strategies will be designed to catch the attention of are those who already use social media interactions as a part of their life and have some familiarity with the applications. This number is increasing every day, as the technology develops to make popular applications accessible for different types of devices. The company will attempt to cultivate a social media presence that is all at once promotional, responsive, and in-tune to current events of interest to general public.

Starbucks has been incredibly successful as a brand offering such a popular commodity as coffee. In a competitive market of this nature, a company must set itself apart in both product quality and marketing strategy in order to accomplish brand goals. Because Starbucks is such a recognizable brand name and logo, the company has an advantage in its approach to social media. An example of a simple promotional deal would be to offer Instagram users a chance to win coupons for taking pictures of the recognized logo cups in beautiful or interesting places. This allows for a conversation that while not directly about the Starbucks product, puts the brand in the consumer’s mind.

According to data reported by the National Coffee Association (NCA), among members of the population ages 18 to 24, 41 percent surveyed said they drank coffee daily (Fernau, 2013). The coffee market requires analysis of repeat consumer behavior. That is, there are particular customers that repeatedly seek out Starbucks to purchase their daily coffee, and there are potential customers with which the company can create brand loyalty. Additionally, there are other segments of the market Starbucks has the potential to attract with the variety of menu options available in stores. According to a 2013 NCA survey, consumption of gourmet coffee remains strong and steady, with nearly one-third of U.S. adults drinking a gourmet coffee each day (Fernau, 2013). This is an expansive market that Starbucks already commands a large portion of, having made products like different varieties of ground coffee available in retail stores.

The demographic market for Starbucks products is people who drink coffee. These consumers are a primary target audience for the brand, they are those who both make and implement a decision to purchase Starbucks (“Advertising Media Planning,” n.d.). Any marketing plan then should make attempts to bring together coffee drinkers, and regular users of social media. In many cases, a regular consumer of Starbucks coffee who maintains an active personal social media presence has already given the company some sort of advertising. This could be in the form of positive or negative feedback about a particular Starbucks product, posted pictures of a beverage, or showing a shared interest in one of the many active charities Starbucks supports the growth of.

The key to expanding marketing techniques to target this demographic is to tap into consumer’s social media usage alongside their loyalty for the Starbucks brand. Essentially, the social media outreach should serve to be at the forefront of a consumers mind when they are making decisions. This is as simple as making the brand visible on social media networks, and ensuring that customers are aware of exclusive online incentives. Promotional techniques for increasing social media awareness can include offering discounted products to customers who “like” the Starbucks Facebook page or follow the twitter account. A comprehensive plan will also include dates during which a chosen Starbucks hash tag will pay to be promoted as a trend on twitter. It is best for the company to organize a promotional trend as they are also offering a deal such as free iced coffee day or reduced prices on drinks purchased after 2 p.m. This is strategic timing and will be necessary in order for a promotional hash tag to create meaningful conversation about the brand.

In order to determine a valid competitive expenditure analysis, Starbucks must be compared to other fast food retailers such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. Both competing companies have previously spent on ad campaigns aimed at highlighting the price difference between more expensive Starbucks, and the cheaper coffee alternatives (“Starbucks Competitive Analysis,” 2013). Starbucks is comparably more expensive than other coffee brands, however the brand is recognized for creating a high-quality roast as well as offering beverage options its competitors cannot. Both competing corporations have partnered with outside associations to offer promotional deals, Dunkin Donuts has an ongoing partnership with Major League Baseball in much the same way McDonalds does with the Olympics. These marketing strategies are designed to cast Starbucks in a negative light as too expensive. In response to this media portrayal, a strategic move for the Starbucks Company would be to emphasize what it is that their competitors don’t offer. Starbucks is recognized for the atmosphere within each store being a place where people go to study, read, or relax on break from work. Although it is still fast food, the emphasis is not on getting customers in and out of the store, but rather inviting them to linger over a cup of coffee. Starbucks has this precedent to its advantage, and might respond with an ad campaign targeting the comparatively hectic storefront ambiances of its main competitors.

The objectives of a marketing plan designed for Starbucks coffee should include fostering a social media presence that encompasses even more user-driven content regarding promotional offers and opportunities to share deals, as well as increasing the company’s brand recognition among new users of social media. With these goals in mind, a marketing team will be able to command the company’s usage of social media in order to increase positive interactions and demonstrate a commitment to customer satisfaction. The tools that the company needs to establish meaningful brand connections via social media are already available. Starbucks has an extensive following across many platforms when compared with other corporations, and remains popular among various demographics of media users. In order for Starbucks to attain the marketing goals that have been laid out, the company’s presence will be increased from where it already stands as consistent, to provide more opportunity for a social conversation about the product. In making these changes to advertising mediums and transitioning to a more online-content based strategy of brand promotion, Starbucks will continue to set an example in innovation for the digital age.

References

Advertising Media Planning: A Primer. (n.d.). Advertising Media Planning and Strategy.Retrieved from http://admedia.org/

Fernau, K. (2013, May 9). Coffee grinds fuel for the nation. USA Today. Retrieved fromhttp://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/04/09/coffee-mania/2069335/

Gibb, C. (2013, February 13). 6 ways Starbucks excels at social media marketing. PR DailyNews: Public Relations news and marketing in the age of social media. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/6_ways_Starbucks_excels_at_social_media_marketing_13814.aspx#

Moth, D. (2013, March 6). How Starbucks uses Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Google+Econsultancy. Retrieved from http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/62281-how-starbucks-uses-pinterest-facebook-twitter-and-google

Starbucks - Competitive Analysis. (2013, February 12). Starbucks - Competitive Analysis.Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/mspinella1016/starbucks-competitive-analysis

Starbucks: Tweet a Coffee | Digital Buzz Blog. (2013, October 30). Starbucks: Tweet a Coffee |Digital Buzz Blog. Retrieved from http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/starbucks-tweet-a-coffee/

Starbucks Coffee Company. (n.d.). Starbucks Coffee Company. Retrieved fromhttp://www.starbucks.com/