Business and Marketing / Business Case Study


Promotional Strategies that took Starbucks to the Top

 Starbucks is the most well-renowned brand in the world with an operating income of more than $4.1 Billion and massive worldwide following (From pp. 1 of Statista). From its humble beginnings as a small coffee bean seller in 1971, Starbucks has grown into a remarkable empire with 27,300 stores around the world and is now hailed as the world’s 60th best brand (From pp. 1 of Interbrand).

While cafes such as Starbucks are often risky businesses which are most likely to fail within the first year, Starbucks has paved its own way to stardom. So what did they do to turn a small business into a huge enterprise?

The answer lies in their intelligent promotional strategies. Matching Starbucks’ hefty marketing budget might be impossible but learning from the core principles and applying them to your business can take you to the top.

Here are some ways Starbucks has changed the game with its promotional strategies and how you can integrate it into your brand’s strategy for maximum visibility.

1.   Attractive Positioning Statement

Starbucks has a unique positioning statement which conveys its distinct value to the customer. With the statement of “the third place”, Starbucks expresses itself as a “third home” or a place one could come for unparalleled relaxation with good coffee. In this way, the brand is not only selling a coffee but curating an experience that makes customers come back for more.

Important Takeaways

A strong positioning statement allows you to focus on the strong areas of your business to give you the edge over competition. It is your chance to control what your customers think about your brand and the feelings they associate with it.

To get started on your statement, highlight the key points including: Who are your customers? What is your value proposition? What are your competitors doing? All this will help you create a position statement.

Finally, write the statement in the form of a sentence highlighting the benefits of your product and how different it is from what the competition is offering. The end result should be clear, concise and a good representation of your brand. You can even convert to a tagline.

2.   A Customer Loyalty Program

Starbucks knows how important regulars are and displays that with a customer loyalty program. The program offers benefits to the customers who are in the rewards program. From free drinks to unlimited refills and more, the reward program keeps customers wanting for more. Starbucks routinely tempts its customers with an offer of a free drink. This helps them lure people into the shop and once people come in, they ultimately buy other products as well.

Important Takeaways

They sell to regular customers accounts for most of the revenue for many large businesses. This is why customer retention is a big deal.

To get started on your reward program, first conduct an evaluation of how much your customers are worth and how much it costs to acquire them. This will allow you to weigh the pros and cons of a new reward program. Next, assess whether most of your customers are satisfied with your product or not.

A reward program demands a consistent level of customer satisfaction. Now design the reward program keeping your expenses in check. The last step is to effectively promote the rewards program on all the necessary channels such as social media, website, email, mobile, etc. Once your loyalty program is up and running, monitor the profits and benefits it brings you.

3.   Secret Menus and Limited time Offers

Humans have an age-old fear of missing out on something exciting and Starbucks exploits that with its limited-time offers and secret seasonal menus. This strategy is especially effective on millennials and results in many impulse-driven purchases cause by FOMO.

Important Takeaways

Here’s how you can follow in Starbucks’ footsteps and use FOMO to your advantage.

Include Exclusive Seasonal Menus Starbucks sells exclusive drinks during the holidays. These delicious flavours are only available during particular seasons so customers know that they have to purchase them before the time runs out.

Provide Limited Time Offers The word “Limited time” alone is sure to set an alarm in people’s heads. Make your special offers limited time so people get the sense of urgency to avail is as soon as possible.

Increase Urgency level with Countdown and Stick Remaining There’s nothing like a countdown timer that gets us into panic mode. Integrate a countdown timer to your website so people come rushing in before the offer ends. Also convey that the stock is quickly running out.

4.   Top Notch Content Marketing

Starbucks’ content marketing game is as strong as any other strategy. The mouth-watering photos, fun taglines and relatable content create an image that is hard to match. The content makes their campaigns doubly effective and hooks the customers’ interest.

Important Takeaways

Here are some ways you can generate great content to take your brand to the next level:

Create Challenges

Create a challenge for your customers such as a reward for trying or finishing a new menu item in record time.

Event Related Content

Post relatable content such as spooky goodies on Halloween or back to school stuff in the school season.

Tell a Story

Tell a story about how you source your product and the customer journey of your brand.


Give some fun wisdom in the form of facts and infographics to satisfy curiosities.

Post it Everywhere

Share your content on multiple channels.

5.   Consistent Experience

While it’s important to bring in new things, humans love familiarity and consistency. Starbucks provides that consistency across all its branches and even online. You know what to expect when you enter a Starbucks and the experience never lets you down.

Important Takeaways

Consistency can only be achieved if you are clear about your brand and its goals. Start with a brand handbook highlighting your brand identity, logo, colors, and its mission. All these will dictate your content and your promotional strategies. Ensure that your products pass a quality assurance test that checks for consistency.

6.   Constant Innovation

Starbucks innovates constantly to keep customers on their toes. From innovative marketing campaigns to innovative deals and promotions, Starbucks consistently comes up with things that work. Despite some failures, Starbucks is never deterred and keeps on innovating.

Important Takeaways

Innovation is the key success. However, trying a tested strategy might also work wonders. Ensure to ask public opinion before bringing in an innovation. Mix and match existing things to create new things. And most importantly, empower your employees by having a culture that nurtures innovative ideas and practices.

Starbucks may have a large budget for marketing, but the strategies mentioned above are at the heart of its robust promotional campaign, and they don’t cost much at all! So, start small and be ready to wait it out until you reach good results. RememberPromotional Strategies that took Starbucks to the Top, Starbucks wasn’t an overnight success either.


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