I just tried the new Starbucks Cascara latte. Available only to Starbucks rewards members for a limited preview period and I gotta say that it's one of my new favorite drinks.
It tops or matches the famous white chocolate mocha because it's sweet but not overly so and still delivers a good jolt of caffeine to wake you up or give you a little boost. I've been ordering the white chocolate mocha with half of the designated amount of white chocolate syrup because it's just too much.
But the cascara latte is perfect. I'm not a huge fan of most lattes because they tend to be too sweet, but the cascara latte isn't. It's just sweet enough.
So why am I talking about Starbucks on a marketing blog anyway?
I like them most of the time. I'm a romantic and I want to like the small and quaint coffee shops in and around my city, I want to experience "better" coffee as many of my friends put it. But the reality is that most of my experiences with these small coffee shops are shit. They don't hold a candle to Starbucks. So I remain a Starbucks fan. They make my experience enjoyable, consistent, and reliable.
Then there's the business side of things.
I have been fascinated with Starbucks over the past year, not only because of their coffee but because of their marketing and promotional initiatives. They're a great company to study and learn from in regards to promotions, marketing, and sales.
As far as I can tell, Starbucks killed it in business during 2016, and they show no sign of slowing down for 2017.
They're constantly adding new items to their menu. This cascara latte is a perfect example. They take their infrastructure and existing ingredients and remix them to create something new. --Something that more businesses should work on regularly-- In the case of the cascara latte, they created a new syrup using the coffee cherry. You can read a little more about that here.
They recently they also added the Nitro Cold brew coffee to their lineup to follow the trends of cold brewed coffee. Starbucks leverages technology like very few companies do.
They try to make coffee different, unique and arguably better, like with their clover coffee brewing system.
Starbucks leverages technology like very few companies do.
I get it, they have the cash to do it, but they didn't just get the cash overnight, Starbucks deliberately and consistently provides customers with value and an enjoyable experience. But here are some of the reasons why I think Starbucks is using technology right.
[bctt tweet="Starbucks deliberately and consistently provides customers with value and an enjoyable experience." username="notagrouch"]
They have a solid mobile app that delivers on its basic promise of letting you order online, it gives you time. But the app has also has increased their sales from 15 - 20%. It is expected to take over 50% or more of their transactions in the near future. The growth is also largely attributed to their loyalty program.
As a side note, I know that I have been happy with the loyalty program so far, I have over 8 free drinks at my disposal. Over the holidays they kicked it up a notch by gamifying the holidays with their Starbucks for life game, which is a digital version of the McDonald's monopoly game they have been running for a while. And like most chance, monopoly-style games seems and feels a little bit rigged, but I digress.
They have a solid presence in social media, with a good following and engagement tactics on most major networks, like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, Twitter and even Linkedin. They even embrace Snapchat.
Over the course of 2014-2016, they deployed wireless charging systems to most of their stores, for the convenience of their customers. We are power hungry and we are wi-fi hungry! After a failed relationship with T-mobile, and AT&T, they seem to finally have found a partner with Google to run one of the best free "public" wifi spots I've used recently.
After a failed relationship with T-mobile, then AT&T, they seem to finally have found a partner with Google to run one of the best free "public" wi-fi spots I've used in recent times.
Their products are mostly consistent throughout their stores and their policies are usually uniform as well. Once in a while, they have a nasty manager or employee, as a recent visit to my local store revealed, but what large corporation doesn't have their bad apple here and there?
Extremely disappointed on your store today @starbucks. Staff was rude, order was incorrect 2x and 1 drink had to me remade 3x. Horrible.
— Oscar Gonzalez (@notagrouch) December 11, 2016
But before I bore you to death, let me wrap this up.
Overall, Starbucks will continue to grow and will kick ass again this year. Every business owner and entrepreneur should be paying attention. They have so many lessons that we can extract as budding and established entrepreneurs that you could spend an entire year just studying them in depth to get a solid business and marketing education. All for the price of a few cascara lattes each week.
Update couple of days later...
A couple of days later after I published this blog post, I published this video on Youtube to compliment this post, check it out if you'd like and don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube channel for exclusive video-only content.