I don’t get it.
Starbucks is fighting all sides to maintain its market share and position as most beloved coffee shop and what does it do? It runs some print ads telling us to “Beware of a cheaper cup of coffee” in one ad . (Now you’re telling me what to think?) In another it reinforces it’s money-back guarantee – "If your coffee isn't perfect, we'll make it over”. (Isn’t that what all good companies should do? Stand behind their product?)
Given all the passion and creativity that built this iconic brand, I’m disappointed that this is all they’ve come up with. Is this meant to reinvigorate the brand?
I’ve always believed in the fundamental principles of branding and marketing - leverage your strengths and points of differentiation. Think about it. Starbucks has built a business by building communities (Howard calls it The Third Place) – just walk into any well run store and you’ll see people engaged in conversation, mom’s meeting other mom’s and chatting about baby health issues, hopeful singles meeting for the first time, girlfriends breaking up with their boyfriends, business conducted over lattes.
Life happens over coffee –
When all the right elements are working, what makes Starbucks special is the unique spark and energy generated by the people who inhabit the café – the baristas and the customers. Now more than ever, people need community. People need affirmation, they need a place for renewal, a place to gather and discuss. Think of all the online communities that are springing up. Starbucks is missing a wonderful opportunity to cultivate these emotions and become the heartbeat of the community once again.
So who is doing a good job creating an emotional connection with their advertising? I can’t believe it’s a car company – but it’s a car company. Honda has done a wonderful job of warming the cockles of my heart. I want to join this group of people and converse with them, I want to drive this car and share the values that make up the Honda community.
Starbucks could learn a lot about creative and innovative advertising from Honda. In their ads, they’ve shown how a shared experience can create a community. Take a look and tell me what you think.