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Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

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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Roll Call: GolinHarris, Women at NBCU, Allison + Partners, and More

Margaret Shubny has joined GolinHarris in Chicago, filling a new executive director role. She will be leading several accounts in the healthcare practice as part of the firm’s “Catalyst” group. Shubny was most recently MD of Burson-Marsteller’s healthcare practice.

The Women at NBCU advisory board has six new members: Julie Eddleman, marketing director for North American media and shopper marketing at P&G; Annie Young-Scrivner, global CMO of Starbucks and president of Tazo; Fiona Morrison, who was most recently director of brand and advertising for JetBlue Airways; Susan Whiting, vice chair at Nielsen, responsible for client relations and marketing; Sarah Greenberg Roberts, head of publicity at The Weinstein Company; and Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN. Women at NBCU is the female-targeted marketing and research initiative at NBC.

Allison + Partners has named Trudi Boyd GM of the firm’s Washington D.C. office, helping to build the public affairs practice and managing growth and client service for the office. She previously spent 14 years at FTI Consulting, most recently serving as MD of the Health and Life Science practice.

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More Companies Raising Prices

Three more companies have announced that they are raises prices on their goods or services: Starbucks is raising prices by one percent on some items across the Northeast and Sunbelt; Denny’s is raising prices three to five percent this year; and Delta is adding a $3 charge on flights between the U.S. and Europe.

Word of these price hikes started coming out late yesterday, yet it hasn’t been met with the same level of consumer rancor that the Verizon or Bank of America fee proposals did. What gives? We have a few thoughts.

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Starbucks’ Small Business Campaign Can Be Both Philanthropy and PR

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Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz appeared on the Today show yesterday to introduce  that company’s new philanthropic campaign, which seeks to raise money that will help small businesses in need of loans. Launched in collaboration with Create Jobs for USA and the Opportunity Finance Network, Starbucks is getting the ball rolling with a $5 million donation. And each $5 donation from consumers will get them a wristband that shows support.

During the Today show appearance, Matt Lauer played devil’s advocate, asking Schultz to address any “cynicism” out there about this being a PR project. “I can assure you, this is nothing about marketing,” Schultz replied. He continued, in response to another question, “This is not about PR.”

Lauer said at one point, “You say it’s not PR, but it sounds a lot like a PR campaign.” Why can’t it be both philanthropic and a PR campaign?

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