>Spilled Coffee: The Starbucks Marketing Mess


This is post #6 of the reExperience Starbucks Project in conjunction with Becky Carroll and Customers Rock! See what Becky has to say in her latest post: Re-Experiencing Starbucks: Update 6 – The Card

Pardon me, but what’s going on at Starbucks? CEO Howard Schultz started off this year with a promise to re-ignite the Starbucks experience. Let’s take you back to his tranformation memo dated January 7:

Schultz: “Re-igniting our emotional attachment with our customers by
restoring the connection our customers have with you, our coffee, our brand, and
our stores. Unlike many other places that sell coffee, Starbucks built the
equity of our brand through the Starbucks Experience. It comes to life every day
in the relationship our people have with our customers. By focusing again on the
Starbucks Experience, we will create a renewed level of meaningful
differentiation and separation in the market
between us and others who are attempting to sell coffee.” (emphasis mine)

Will that differentiation come through selling fruit smoothies and energy drinks? Apparently so. This week Starbucks announced its intent to sell those very items. So is the strategy now to steal some market share from Smoothie King?

Quite frankly, it’s difficult to tell what the Starbucks marketing strategy is. A while back I asked the question What is Braum’s? I think it’s appropriate to ask the question: What is Starbucks? Is it a coffee experience or a beverage convenience store? Whatever it is, Starbucks is providing good case study in marketing. It’s a text-book example of how muddling your customer experience can devalue your brand.

I’m frustrated, and not just because I’m a marketer. Starbucks gave me a unique and upscale coffee experience. And now it’s evaporating right before my eyes.

Enough ranting. I’ve got to go find some paper towels and clean up this mess.

What others are saying about Starbucks:
OPEN THREAD conversation – Is Starbucks the next Gap? on Jim Romenesko’s Starbucks Gossip

THIS is why I love Starbucks. – A smile-inducing story by Holly of For Lack of a Better Word

Thirsting for more from Starbucks by Jonathan Ratner of FP Trading Desk – Within this article is the reason for Starbuck’s marketing mess: listening to analysts.

More on Starbucks Marketing:
reExperience Starbucks Blog
Get Your Free Coffee and Word of Mouth Idea Today
I Spent 10 Days Without Starbucks and Lived to Tell About It

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