Experience is Still King: Lessons from Starbucks

June 27, 2017

In the last article we discussed “The Third Screen” (mobile) and how that has now taken over as the primary way most consumers get their information. In a few years, when Generation Z comes of age, this will be taken to a whole new level.

So what does this mean to you and your business?  If you have a website and any social media presence, you need to be mindful of how your advertising and marketing communications look on a smartphone. You need to understand how your customers think about your brand and products and how they influence the behavior of others. (What to drink, where to buy it, what day/time, pictures, recipes, selfies etc).

However, I believe that experience is still king and those of you (both on and off-premise) who understand and exploit this will win. I was recently on the West Coast in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. I got a chance to visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle. While I am not a fan of Starbucks coffee, I do appreciate how they understand and leverage the Starbucks “experience”.

They promote this venue saying, “Our love affair with coffee knows now bounds…… A one of a kind coffee shrine in our hometown that captures the past, present, and future of Starbucks……This is our Roastery, a place we had to create. The Siren called….. we listened.”It is very similar to the larger craft brewers who tie manufacturing to retail food service operations.

They take you through all of the steps in the process and also highlight the sensory cues (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch) that “deliver” the experience. This is not going to be their new format (they currently only have plans in place for New York City, Shanghai and Milan), but will support the brand.

For those of you who want more information directly from Starbucks you can visit the website for the Roastery at roaster.starbucks.com.

So what does this mean for your business? I am a big believer in the “Borrow, Copy, Adapt and Adopt” thought process as it relates to marketing. I always like to look at what is going on “outside” of my world. When we do planning meetings for clients, we always take a 360 degree view of what is going on outside so we can identify things that may not directly impact them now, but may be a harbinger of things to come. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – old but true.

Take a look at what Starbucks, Apple, Disney, Wegman’s, and others do with their brands and “borrow, copy, adapt and adopt”.

Whether you are an on or off-premise establishment, you need to make sure that you understand YOUR consumers and build your products, merchandising and marketing programs around them. It will positively impact your bottom line!

And remember, Marketing is a race with no finish line.

George Latella teaches Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Food Marketing which is the largest major at Saint Joseph’s University recently celebrated its 55th anniversary. George is also a partner in Beacon Marketing group which provides Marketing planning, research, and e-commerce/direct marketing communications for food and beverage companies. George can be reached at glatella@sju.edu or 610-660-2254.


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