Tag Archives: Starbucks

La Vida Local

As much as the world has shrunk, it’s still a big world… and local still means something. In fact, local still packs a ton of value… real and potential.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since my last post on Starbucks’ community coffeehouse concept, which in itself recognizes the value of appealing to consumers by delivering more of an authentic local experience.

Those who work for global or international organizations will nod their heads about the importance of localization.

Many brands reach out to the world at large, but failure is imminent if you don’t think and act locally.

What happens when you don’t account for local differences?

Well, as the authors over at the Brand Strategy Insider blog point out, you get beaten… and badly! See Local Brand Dominance.

jollibeeTheir example: McDonald’s in the Philippines getting beaten patties down by the home brand Jollibee.

McDonald’s mistake: not accounting for the distinct Filipino palate. Jollibee’s winning recipe: designing its menu around Filipino taste buds. The result: the Jollibee brand is preferred by 69 percent of Filipinos; McDonald’s by only 16 percent.

What do you think of local branding? What other examples do we have of global brands that have nailed or blown it on local branding?

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Starbucks Goes Neighborly: Brand Champ or Chump?

15th-aveStarbucks has opened a new store. Err – nothing new there. But this isn’t just another Starbucks; it’s a coffeehouse known as 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea.

Apparently, it’s the first of three remodeled stores in the Seattle area. Each store will be presented as a community coffeehouse, bearing the name of its neighborhood, rather than the coffee-shop giant to which it belongs.

You won’t find the Starbucks logo at the stores, but you will see the words “inspired by Starbucks” at strategic locations throughout the interior of the cafés.

The new coffeehouses will serve wine and beer, offer pastries, host live music and poetry readings and make espresso without the automated machines.

With a license to serve alcoholic beverages, the stores are positioned to capture a greater share of evening traffic. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Most of Starbucks’ revenue usually comes in during the morning and afternoons. Now, they can go after a greater share of the pie.

Starbucks says they’re experimenting with stores that have a stronger community personality.

Now, let’s be clear. This is just a test right now for Starbucks. They’re going to see how these stores do and then possibly expand to other cities.

And in my mind, it’s a worthwhile experiment and a brand move worthy of CHAMP status.

Neighborhood Loyalty
The first thing I thought of when I heard of this concept is Chicago, a town I always enjoy visiting. I like Chicago as a whole, but I especially appreciate that it’s a city of neighborhoods, each one with a distinct character.

One of my work colleagues happened to move to Chicago and he confirmed what I had already heard and come to know: locals know where to go in their neighborhood… for drinks, coffee, socializing, whatever… And not only do they know where to go, but they also hold a strong sense of brand loyalty to those establishments.

I believe Starbucks has the chance to foster a whole new set of brand loyalties with its neighborhood coffeehouse concept. They can continue to deliver consistency and quality, but with much more flexibility to deliver the compelling, distinctive environments and experiences consumers increasingly thirst. You can’t do that as a chain. You just can’t.

Some say Starbucks is actually working to un-brand itself, but I don’t see it that way.

Why would Starbucks want to do that? The brand equity in the Starbucks name is too great. We’re not talking about a brand in tremendous trouble here. Profits may not be what they once were, but the Starbucks logo isn’t in any danger of going away and traditional Starbucks stores aren’t either.

I see a coffee powerhouse that’s recognized the value in going beyond a single brand. With its neighborhood coffeehouses, Starbucks can offer consumers something more. No longer confined to the cookie cutter model, new stores can be creative and offer an exceptional distinctiveness, all the while enjoying the full backing of the Starbucks brand.

I also don’t see this move as a departure from the brand’s essence. Sure, Starbucks is recognized today as a coffee chain. But serving as the neighborhood coffeehouse was one of the core ideas upon which the Starbucks brand was founded. Seen in that light, we might say Starbucks is returning to its roots.

So, I like Starbucks’ direction on this one. Do you? Is the neighborhood coffeehouse concept a champ or chump move? Share your thoughts.

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Starbucks’ New Ad Campaign: Brand Champ or Chump?

The economy stinks right now. I know it. You know it. And Starbucks, the high-end coffee retailer, they know it too.

As a result, they’re lowering prices on some beverages in certain markets and raising prices on more “complex” drinks. They’ve also launched breakfast “value pairings.” These signals suggest a “pay less” or “better value” message.

A brand that’s perceived as indulgent can only be in trouble in an economy like this one. Starbucks knows it.

beware-sbBut in a new series of print ads, Starbucks says that it’s worth paying more for its coffee. In the ads, the coffee giant highlights what makes it different with headlines such as “It’s not what you’re buying, it’s what you’re buying into,” and “Beware of a cheaper cup of coffee. It comes with a price.”

Two messages:

  1. We’re not as expensive as you think
  2. We’re worth the higher price

You can see all of the print ads on Starbucks’ Ideas in Action Blog.

Is this campaign:

  1. A brand champ?
  2. A brand chump?
  3. Somewhere in between?

Let me know what you think.

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