Coffee at Starbucks

When you think about successful branding you may think of Starbucks, knowing that they did not rely on TV-ads for their marketing but mostly word-of-mouth. In recent years, Starbucks has branched out on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; spreading e-word-of-mouth. How have they been able to create such an impression?

They have created a perception that their coffee is made of the best beans; that is, from Ethiopian farms. The focus is not on coffee beans per se, but more on the experience of drinking coffee; building upon the 16th century coffee experience in modern settings. We may have not have such luxury of time anymore, but it builds upon the nostalgia of that time; a lost Era of discussing politics or the weather with total strangers. They probably do not want to send a mixed message, so they focus on the experience instead; as there is greater resonance to this than ‘exploited’ farms in Africa. We are altruistic humans; however no one wants to feel bad while drinking our cup of coffee. We want to feel good. The nostalgia provides us just that.

When Starbucks also launched their coffee in packets, it was all about diversifying their product range and branching out to a greater audience – who may be something in-between the average take-away customer and sit-in customer; bringing the experience home. After all, coffee is also for sharing with friends and family. Also, it recently updated its logo to exclude the “coffee”, perhaps signalling this move, that they will move into other products ranges as well, or, embracing local tastes while expanding globally. For example, they faced challenges while launching in China that has a strongly ingrained tea-drinking culture by tradition. They counteracted this by embracing local tastes and adding tea to the menus. Interestingly, nowadays some Chinese have come to associate the commodity coffee with the name Starbucks. That must be called successful branding.