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Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

The World’s Greatest Brands: 2013 Edition

StarbucksNike Just Do It Welcome back, dear readers! We hope everyone had a great holiday and survived the crazy season in one piece despite hectic travel schedules, extended visits with the in-laws and borderline alcoholism.

The first of the many, many stories we accumulated over the break is an interesting one: a list of 2013’s 27 “World Champions” of the global branding game, brought to us by Citi and Business Insider.

According to Citi, these 27 brands have beaten all others when it comes to creating “significant and enduring business models over the long term”–and we covered quite a few of them in 2012. Our thoughts on some of the winners after the jump:

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6 Brands Taking Social Media Strategy Beyond Facebook

SephoraWe found ourselves intrigued by last week’s Forbes post on “Why Facebook Can’t Be the Center of Your Social Strategy”, because we’re fairly certain that every PR/marketing pro would love to work with a social media platform less infuriating than the big FB—a platform that grants brands a little more in the way of control and allows reps to more clearly demonstrate the benefits of a given project to clients.

According to author Rob Tarkoff of Lithium Technologies, some of the most socially successful brands have moved beyond Facebook by establishing their own “on-domain customer communities”. In other words, they encourage fans to participate in social media forums located within their own websites.

Tarkoff writes that “The most cutting-edge B2B and B2C brands are placing bets on on-domain, owned, social media hubs where they can control the brand, guide the experience, and drive real business outcomes.”

Sounds great–so who are they? We’ve chosen to highlight six:

  1. American Idol
  2. Sephora
  3. American Express
  4. Google AdWords
  5. BMW
  6. Starbucks

Click through for details on each.

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Will the World Grow Weary of Starbucks’s Unstoppable Growth?

Ok, now this is just surreal. We’ve all heard the jokes about how there is a Starbucks on every street corner, and we know that statement is funny because it is (almost) true.

Everywhere you turn, no matter where you are, you’ll see that green and white logo—beside the gas station, across from your florist, atop the dog groomer’s studio. Starbucks simply appears out of nowhere, like Michael Meyers in Halloween.

But the world is, apparently, not enough: The Seattle-based coffee chain and global caffeine kingpin just announced plans to open 3,000 new stores in the Americas region by 2017, with half of those stores slotted for somewhere in the United States. That is staggering. Where in America is Starbucks going to build 1,500 new shops? And where are all of those customers coming from? Does the US have secret plans to colonize Antarctica? And why weren’t we told?

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Starbucks Unveils New $7 ‘Grande’ Cup of Joe

We’ve all heard more than enough about the prolonged American recession/unemployment crisis. We can’t blame the public for being confused about the fact that this very same struggling nation can set Black Friday sales records and create demand for—wait for it—a $7 cup of coffee at Starbucks. Huh?

Who, exactly, is spending all of this money on coffee–and where did they get it? Aren’t we all broke, unemployed and burdened by a lifetime of student loans? Champagne taste on a beer budget is one thing, but coffee doesn’t even have any alcohol in it. Has “a cup of joe” become the new glass of wine?

The Starbucks brand hasn’t just changed the way Americans perceive and consume coffee–it continues to guide our tastes and understanding of a substance that plays an increasingly prevalent role in our lives. Part of the coffee appreciation learning curve, apparently, entails pushing the boundaries of the ordinary. Sorry, Pike Place roast.

To capitalize on the public’s ceaseless search for something new, something better and something different, Starbucks now offers “high-end” Costa Rica Finca Palmilera coffee along with an extra-special variety called “Geisha”. Yes, that geisha.

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Creating a ‘Breakout Brand’ Through PR Outreach

A recent survey commissioned by rbb Public Relations and performed by IBOPE/Zogby International received a bit of media attention over the past few weeks, and with good reason: its most significant revelation was the fact that “83% of consumers would pay more for a product/service from a company they feel puts them first.”

The survey concerned the phenomenon of “breakout brands” that achieve the enviable goal of customer loyalty and steady market share by dealing directly with their customers rather than playing a never-ending game of Battleship with their competitors. And its list of 2012’s “Top 10 Breakout Brands” ran the gamut from universally-beloved names like Apple and customer service leaders like Zappos to controversial brands like Chick-Fil-A.

What led rbb to commission this survey? While researching older marketing strategies, founder Christine Barney noticed that brands no longer followed the classic “challenger” approach typified by the Avis tagline “We’re only No. 2 in rent a cars. So why go with us? We try harder”. This Don Draper-style message may have worked in the 60’s, but it’s no longer relevant. So how have branding strategies evolved?

Barney lists three primary traits of the “breakout brand”:

  1. They lead by putting the customer first, not distinguishing themselves from rivals. Customers don’t care about brand fights.
  2. They use market research and knowledge of their customer base to anticipate their customers’ desire. Did the public realize they wanted tablets before the iPad arrived?
  3. They communicate in ways that go well beyond traditional customer service, developing “rich feedback loops” with their customers.

Can any brand break out? Theoretically, yes—“breakout” does not necessarily mean new. Barney also lists three distinct types of breakout brands:

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How to Be Good at Instagram

Today in Yes, We Know This Video Is a Couple of Weeks Old News: We just checked out Casey Neistat’s nearly viral “Instagram I Love You” short, and we think he may be onto something (other than the fact that Rick Ross is kind of a badass).

In summary: Neistat thinks Instagram has the potential to dominate the social media scene by combining the best of Facebook and Twitter without either of those platforms’ most annoying traits (an overabundance of useless data, text without pictures, etc.).

Here’s the most important lesson we took from the short: Instagram beats Twitter and Facebook by empowering its users to tell a story instead of simply sharing random things they “like” or taking photos of their faces from every possible angle (sorry, Bieber). The fact that Instagram users are more “engaged” than Tweeters backs this theory up.

So who, besides Rick Ross, does Instagram right? And what are the keys to making the most of one’s account?

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Starbucks Runs Low on Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Pandemonium Ensues.

It’s that time of year again — pumpkin-flavored everything lines the shelves at grocery stores and adorns the menus of coffee shops and bakeries alike, perpetuating that festive fall feeling. But what happens when businesses deprive loyal customers of their pumpkin-licious treats? If the business in question happens to be Starbucks, and the treat happens to be the uber-popular and highly-marketed Pumpkin Spice Latte, the answer is “sheer pandemonium.”

Since the seasonal $4 favorite made its fall debut in September, through-the-roof demand has created a challenge for stores that can’t seem to keep the magic ingredient (pumpkin flavored sauce) in stock. It’s even prompted some baristas to make pilgrimages to other branches of the java giant, seeking extra bottles of what can only be described as the holy grail of the pumpkin flavored world.

And when infrequent deliveries of the syrup (and the failure of the wandering baristas to secure back-up doses) requires customers to go without their fall fix, the resulting rage, despondency, and madness might take even seasoned baristas by surprise.

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PR Fail: Starbucks Says ‘No Soy for You!’

Today in Look Before You Jump News: Starbucks seems to have gone the way of Netflix in making service changes without checking with customers first–and now its PR team has a bit of a backlash on its hands.

The coffee giant has some notoriously loyal customers, and its “My Starbucks Rewards” program has been extremely popular. Company publicists just announced a few modifications set to begin on October 16th in an effort to encourage even more customer loyalty. The changes include birthday freebies, smartphone discounts (customers previously had to wait for postcards) and some kind of gold star system that we don’t really understand.

Sounds good, right? Not really. The shift that caused an Internet uproar seems tiny at first glance: Starbucks will no longer offer complimentary soy or flavored syrup shots. We didn’t even realize that the chain charged extra for soy milk.

Well, it turns out that Starbucks has more than a few lactose-intolerant customers–and they are not happy with the changes! Check out the comments on the company’s Facebook page via our friends at The Hoffman Agency for examples of previously loyal customers who have taken offense at this new policy. Seems like the company should have tested this new proposal with their fans first, no?

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Starbucks Branching Out in Many Directions

We have three very different announcements from Starbucks.

First we had news that the coffee emporium was expanding its food options with the $100 million purchase of La Boulange, with that company’s pastries replacing the items Starbucks currently stocks. Starbucks also plans to take La Boulange, a Bay-area chain, national.

The Huffington Post says food sales are a $1.5 billion business for Starbucks. The company says it wants to add a French flair to its restaurants.

Second, Starbucks could start selling single serve K-cups in its stores next week. The company began selling the K-cups six months ago at grocers and other retailers. CEO Howard Schultz has called sales figures so far “robust.” It already sells single-serve instant coffee in its stores.

“For Starbucks, the move to K-cups is part of its overall strategy of becoming a broader consumer products company rather than relying so heavily on its cafe sales,” writes Fox Business.

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Reputations, Digital, and Job Opportunities at the Arthur Page Conference

In addition to announcing a new corp comms model, the Arthur W. Page Society is having a spring conference in NYC that wraps up today. Yesterday, I sat in on the “CEO Spotlight,” which was placed on healthcare/pharmaceutical company Novartis.

Novartis faces a dilemma, according to CEO Joe Jimenez. “We’re ranked first as Fortune magazine’s most admired pharmaceutical company, but the whole industry suffers from a poor reputation,” he said. He bemoaned that “public trust of pharma even ranks below oil and tobacco.”

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