According to recent data from Interbrands, Starbucks is the 51st brand in terms of sales in the world. That’s quite an achievement for a coffee company that started in Seattle in 1971. So, how did they do it? Well, a large part of the company’s phenomenal success is due to Starbucks’ brand awareness strategy.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the key elements of Starbucks’ brand strategy as well as the ways small businesses can learn from them. By understanding and applying these principles, you can give your own business a boost in visibility and recognition, no matter how big or small it is.
Let’s get started!
What Are Starbucks’ Brand Awareness Strategies?
Starbucks is probably one of the most recognizable brands in the world. In fact, it’s so recognizable that when you think “coffee shop,” many people almost instantly imagine a Starbucks coffee shop. This in itself is an indication that people have a strong brand recall for the Starbucks corporation.
So, what exactly made this coffee company such a wildly successful brand?
Here are just a few of the main strategies that propelled Starbucks to the top of the coffee industry:
1. Focused Target Market
The mission statement of Starbucks is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” In other words, Starbucks aims to have long-term relationships with its customers. But who’s the target audience of Starbucks coffee?
According to start.io, the target demographics for Starbucks are both men and women in the middle to upper classes belonging to the age range of 22 to 60 years. Concurrently, the target market is “educated, socially aware, active, and busy.”
Hence, they convince their clients that an expensive cup of coffee is worthwhile by emphasizing the “third place”—a place you can count on to work, hang out, or even simply cozy up and feel at home. Then, the way they convince their potential customers that a Starbucks shop is the best option for any of these activities is through providing an excellent customer experience.
If you’ve ever been to any Starbucks store, you may have noticed that no matter how long you stay with your order of coffee, you’re not pressured to leave as soon as you’re done. Starbucks is notorious for allowing its customers to stay as long as they want while enjoying free wifi, calming music, and great food and drinks.
Thanks to this lovely Starbucks experience, customers tend to develop brand loyalty with this coffee chain very quickly.
Related: Copywriting vs Content Marketing
2. Consistent Brand Experience
It’s no surprise that the Starbucks corporation places high value on building good relationships between the brand and its customers.
Still, customer satisfaction is just one of the many reasons for Starbucks’ success. Another element of their successful marketing strategy is their consistency in branding.
To illustrate, their color palette has barely changed at all in the over 50 years they’ve been operating. In fact, the color green they use is so iconic that most people can distinguish it as belonging to the coffee chain, even from far away. In spite of the slight logo changes over the years, the twin-tailed mermaid is still so synonymous with Starbucks that nobody would mistake it for any other brand.
On top of it all, Starbucks has made sure that they continue to offer high-quality products over the years, including excellent coffee beans, beautiful and modern tumbler designs, and seasonal favorites that have become American classics, like the pumpkin spice latte.
3. Social Responsibility
Finally, Starbucks is among the businesses with the highest levels of social consciousness worldwide. Additionally, it has used its brand to advocate for social causes on both a national and worldwide scale.
Starbucks stores are meant to be safe havens for everyone. For example, they’ve work hard to integrate 10,000+ veterans into its workforce, and they also donate to a variety of charities and humanitarian efforts. In short, this company gives back in huge ways, which has led to their consumers feeling good about supporting them.
Top 3 Most Successful Marketing Campaigns by Starbucks
1. 2013 Blizzard Campaign
When a giant blizzard hit much of the United States in 2013, Starbucks took it as an opportunity to launch a social media promotion that advertised warm coffee as a way to counteract an extremely cold winter. Not surprisingly, this business strategy became an instant hit on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
The idea was simply to take photos of people holding warm coffee in the cold weather—nothing really spectacular. However, these pictures surfaced when people searched for weather-related hashtags like #Nemo (the name of the winter storm) or #blizzard, since they were pushed to these locations via paid promotions like Facebook Ads and Promoted Tweets.
Marketing Tip: It’s crucial to monitor your audience so you can determine which trend they would be most interested in seeing included in your marketing. Smaller companies might leverage microtrends and niche references to appeal to their target market and, in turn, to increase sales.
2. Charity Campaign
Another effective strategy is to combine charity, customer involvement, and collaboration with a social network.
Once upon a time, Starbucks collaborated with Foursquare, a mobile app for local search services, to promote AIDS awareness. In addition, every time a customer entered one of Starbucks’ coffee shops in the US or Canada during a brief period, $1 was contributed to this cause. Before that, they also contributed $10 million to the RED charity’s AIDS awareness campaign.
Marketing Tip: People today want businesses to adopt a position on important issues and to convey a message about where they stand. Plus, combining internet visibility with a good deed helps you build the appropriate reputation for your brand image while benefiting the community at the same time.
3. Taylor Swift Campaign
With the Taylor Swift campaign, Starbucks was no longer merely a coffee shop. Instead, they cultivated a picture of a prosperous, stylish young woman crossing the street with a takeaway cup. Of course, they realized that Taylor Swift was the ideal person to represent this image.
This is part of the reason why Taylor Swift and Starbucks joined forces formally to rerelease her album Red. They used a clever strategy by teasing the collaboration in advance on social media. Following the tweet “It’s Red Season,” Taylor Swift fans could infer that there might be a singer-related tweet coming from Starbucks. Of course, that much was true.
Starbucks also used this opportunity to encourage the fans to grab a “Taylor’s Latte” or a “Taylor’s Version” beverage, which was the Grande Caramel Nonfat Latte.
Marketing Tip: While the influencer marketing approach may be expensive, it can help boost sales quite a bit. Given that Taylor Swift’s persona resonates so effectively with Starbucks’ clientele, she serves as a great spokesperson for the brand. Of course, to prevent wasting money, it’s crucial you figure out your target audience before you engage in any influencer marketing.
Starbucks’ business strategies and brand awareness campaigns are what has made them one of the best and most recognizable \ brands in the world. Plus, this international business is the perfect example of having excellent brand management tactics.
After all, who would imagine that a coffee place would grow into more than 35,000 stores worldwide?
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“Best Global Brands” from Interbrand
“Our Company” from Starbucks
“Who is Starbucks’ Target Market? Customer Characteristics & Marketing Strategy Analysis” from start.io
“Number of International vs U.S.-based Starbucks stores 2005-2022” from Statista