Its ok to be 'Good Enough'

So I finally relented, and tried Starbucks Via today. Over the last 5 years my pallet has adapted to love only Espresso based coffee, but that was not an available option at an event I attended today.

Out of curiosity I tried Via instead of the brewed Coffee option, and was stunned to find it so drinkable. So much so that I was tempted enough to have a refill - an unexpected positive experience. Yet it wasn't really so unexpected, because they keep telling me it tastes better than brewed coffee...but that just was not believable until now.
For sceptics of Via like myself they could have done much more to get me to try it, to provoke me out of my apathy/rejection.
But how ? As I follow Starbucks on Twitter, they could have sent me a DM or @ message, and I wouldn't have minded that, because I'm enough of a fan to follow them. If they had incentivized me I probably would have driven to a store flashed my Iphone app and tried a free sample, but they didn't.
Ultimately they had my permission to change my mind because I had already reached out to them through my Twitter follow and my Iphone app, but in the end they got me by accident.
I struggle with the fact that by only delivering a 'good enough' (according to me) product they managed to change my perception and make me an advocate. I also struggle with how Starbucks is re-framing its coffee Equity. Do they stand for great tasting coffee or good enough coffee ? Do they stand for a great experience or more frequent good enough experiences ? I think you know which one to choose here ...right ?

Brands. Don’t hide the facts - talk about price rises !

Kudos to Starbucks. I’ve been impressed with the recent Twitter communication from @Starbucks and the intelligent way they have engaged their followers after raising (and also reducing) some prices, by following 2 simple rules.


1.Be Transparent
As smart users of social media they maintained transparency in their communication, and didn’t hide from the facts. The first tweet was a link to an ABC report that was neutral in overall tonality; containing both positive and negative comments about pricing, but also referenced a competitors’ success (McDonalds).

2.Be Authentic
Today they posted a tweet to savvy sugar which gave 10 tips on how to save money, nicely balancing being informative vs overtly sales focused. The tonality of the piece felt authentic, and I love this grown up approach.

By building this kind of relationship with their consumers Starbucks is adopting a winning strategy to strengthen their brand.

Now that’s what I call a logo

CNN and Fortune magazine have a great piece highlighting 12 major link brand identity restages of companies with strong examples being Walmart, IBM and Starbucks. I posted last month about how much I love the restage by Pepsi – which shook my complacency with Coke drove me to try Pepsi with the ultimate result of that I switched allegiance to Pepsi. Of the examples the stand out is UPS, providing effortless proof that the colour brown can successfully be used to differentiate and connote positive attributes that engage the consumer and fit a brand so well.

Battle of the Beans - Is McCafe Better Than Starbucks ?

The Good
Having seemingly lost its way as consumers tighten their discretionary spending at last Starbucks is back and returning to their premium (coffee) experience roots via the Inspired by Starbucks brand of stores.

The Bad
For years the key characteristics of:
a) great tasting coffee, and b) a truly unique and engaging experience, have been hindered by the push behind stretching the brand into for example, cold ice filled flavoured drinks - coupled with the sense that the role of the Barista was being diminished .

To make matters worse brands such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds (McCafe) have successfully infiltrated Starbucks territory and spent significantly to communicate their offerings. NB in Europe McCafe’s are also nicely decked out in comfy leather seats, wooden tables, and art alongside an offering of muffins, cookies etc.

The Ugly (Truth)
Contrary to the experts at Coffee Review, my current tally is a stirring 20:1 visits in favour of McCafe vs Starbucks. Yes, I freely admit to preferring a McCafe ‘Medium’ Cappuccino vs the ‘Tall’ Starbucks equivalent.

The winning Formula
Lower McCafe price (by 50c or so) + incentive (discount coupons on ‘Medium’ size) = Starbucks disloyalty.

But with hope of the “inspired by Starbucks” franchise on the horizon, perhaps there is a way for Starbucks to win back my business.