I like the Starbucks brand. I like how they play jazz and reggae instead of the latest top 40 tripe in their stores (although that might be the particular branches I frequent), I like how their business has strong ethical foundations, and their coffee isn’t bad either.
But in the current economic climate (god…I’m sick of hearing that), what are they doing to keep connecting people to what is essentially, an expensive luxury?
In a bid to combat perceptions that their coffee is overpriced – which incidentally it is – and to compete with McDonalds’ $100 million marketing campaign promoting their new McCafé drinks line, they recently launched their biggest marketing effort yet. They will place posters like the one pictured above in 6 major US cities and, making use of their already established online community (1.5 million Facebook fans and 183,000 Twitter followers), they aim to spread the word further by challenging people to hunt down posters next tuesday and be the first to post a photo of one of them on twitter.
To me this is a great example of a company providing an extra dimension to their traditional marketing efforts by allowing the online community to participate and tell the story for them. Their online community gives them a distinctive advantage over competitors and they are right to get them involved.
We’re seeing more and more examples of online and offline integration, allowing consumers the chance to actually interact with traditional media – which is still the most effective means of reaching a mass audience – while also utilising the power of online word-of-mouth. I suspect that McDonald’s will need more than its big ad spend to compete with a brand with such a compelling story to tell and such a significant community of potential advocates.