The $75.00 Travel Mug … and a New Competitor?
I love good coffee. I'm the one who wants to hit all the coffee plantations when we are in Kona, Hawaii, even though we have been to these places multiple times before. I even have to watch our airline weight limits because of how much I buy. Hey ... it's Kona Coffee fresh from Kona and I've got to have it!
As someone who likes good coffee, I think the smaller chains like Peets and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, have better coffee than Starbucks. But Starbucks locations are everywhere and it seems to be a popular meeting spot. They have Internet (slow as it may be) and because Starbucks has locations everywhere, meeting there is convenient.
Just down the street from my home, they put a Starbucks in our remodeled market and shopping center. In addition to the Starbucks within the market, they are also building a new Starbucks about 50 yards away in the same center. Granted it will have a drive through (a blessing for some), but two Starbucks that close. Really? Their marketing research has shown, however, that where these stores are clustered, they all seem to do well. Starbucks seemingly knows how to drive business to their stores!
I confess to being sucked in to the Starbucks "program" earning "stars" for my purchases. I've earned Gold status, which gives me some perks. Because of this program I find myself buying more coffee to earn "stars" ... but that's the point of course. It's like the classic Seinfeld episode where Elaine is crazed trying to get her free Atomic sub when her sub card is filled.
Starbucks is pretty ingenious with their marketing efforts. In a recent promotion, for $75.00 you could buy a Starbucks branded tumbler and get a "handcrafted espresso beverage" every day in January. If you get a drink every day in January, it's a $140.00 value. This makes the $75.00 low-end travel mug actually a "deal!"
Some research has shown that a habit can be formed in 21 to 28 days. The number of days to create a habit can be debated, but the reality is that purchasers are likely to have these boutique beverages every day to take full advantage of their "deal." As a result, I would guess that sales of Espresso type drink sales for Starbucks would go up in February. It's brilliant, really.
And in another stroke of branding genius, Starbucks also offers a very limited $450.00 metal gift card. This year only 1,000 were made and they were only available on the luxury website www.gilt.com. Last year Starbucks produced 5,000 designer cards and they sold out in about six minutes. This year, by making them even more exclusive, they sold out in less time than it takes to order a latte. Here's the story.
Starbucks is also in the corporate branding business. Did you know you can get custom branded Starbucks cards, co-branded with a company logo, and a custom imprinted card sleeve?
Looking at the big picture, we see that Starbucks is actually a promotional products supplier and the distributor. These custom branded cards are sold direct by Starbucks. A point worth noting is that a large percentage of gift cards go unclaimed, which is yet another benefit for Starbucks. Again, it's brilliant.
I've been working on doing something in our industry with the gift being custom branded Starbucks cards. An industry colleague, who I highly respect, sees this as being negative. His thinking is that we should be using our own medium as gifts, which of course make sense.
The branded Starbucks card, however, is actually a promotional product; but an industry supplier does not sell it. The card features branding and the card sleeve has a marketing message as well. Our industry is challenged with all types of competitors. Is this good or bad? Your input is welcomed.
Along the same lines, some feel that giving cash or gift cards is a good idea. But the branded products we sell offer a lasting impact! Cash may be appreciated and pay some bills, but is it really the best way to go? When it's gone, it's gone, leaving no lasting impression. In another Seinfeld clip, we see how this plays out when Jerry choses to give cash instead of a gift.
I have a client who spends a lot of money on Christmas gifts. In the past he has given cash, but I have since been able to educate him on the benefits of doing very nice branded gifts. Recently, we did very high-end jackets and everyone loves them. The branding impression will last for years. These jackets meet a need and offer excellent exposure for the company as they are worn around town!
Starbucks is doing some pretty innovative marketing. What can we do to showcase the value of our medium? If we are effective illustrating that what we offer is an appreciated and long lasting branding tool, it represents nice sales for us. And our client's will appreciated it. This is the heart and soul of our industry!
Jeff Solomon, MAS is affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don't miss out on what's happening! Opt in to receive their e-newsletters! LIKE their page on Facebook follow them on twitter and connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.