I am neither a fan of Game of Thrones nor a coffee lover. However, as a new media enthusiast, I could not ignore the hype around it. I even threatened to block any of my followers on social media that post anything related to the fiction. In fact, I could not ignore the thousands of tweets and mentions of the weekly episode of the movie on my timeline on Twitter. There was a particular week when an episode was aired and there was a buzz that a modern-day coffee cup was spotted and everyone assumed that it was Starbucks coffee. The major reason why people thought the coffee cup was that of the Starbucks was because of the faintly visible green siren logo of Starbucks. While some analysts suggested that it was a mistake, others suggested that it was a product placement. The product placement school of thought went further to argue that it is impossible for a big franchise like GOT to make such mistakes.
Was It Really A Mistake or Product placement?
It was neither a mistake nor a product placement. In fact, a few days after, the coffee cup was edited out of that particular episode.
How much did Starbucks benefit in a free advertisement from the viral moments on new media Platforms?
The CEO of Hollywood Branded, a marketing firm estimated the free advertisement to be worth 2.3 billion U.S dollars. Furthermore, Talkwalter, social media analytics and monitoring platform estimated that within 48 hours, more than 193,000 mentions cited both GOT and Starbucks. Further, Critical Mention, PR subscriptions service stated that there were 10,627 mentions of Starbucks and “Game of Thrones” online, radio and the T.V all around the world. This is a testimony to the brand strong identity.
How was Starbucks able to build such a strong brand identity? below are a few key lessons.
Lessons From The Brand (Starbucks)
Build a strong distinctive brand: Rome was not built in a day or weeks, it took several years. Starbucks has been so innovative with its brand identity continuously over decades, which reflects, in its numerous coffee flavors and services. And it has continued to build a distinctive brand by focusing on the value addition chain in the coffee industry. A visit to the largest Starbucks coffee shop in the world is a testament to its continuous innovations. Here is a brief explanation of the largest Starbucks outlet in the world, there is a section for walk-in orders; there is a section for those that pre-order to pick up their orders, there is a section for gift items; there is a section for bespoke coffee orders among others.
Quality: I have tried a few cups of different coffee brands and I can testify that Starbucks coffee tastes different and amazing from other coffee chains. Starbucks focuses on selling premium and quality coffee. The Starbucks franchise is not ready to compromise its quality for anything in this world and Starbucks has done a great job in making sure that any of its coffee-types taste the same no matter the country. In addition, have you ever wondered why Starbucks outlets are situated and continue to expand rapidly in countries that have a fast-growing middle class? It is because the brand knows who and where its products and services can be purchased without a slight protest.
Location: The innovative location strategy is second to no other brand. Have you ever paused and asked yourself why Starbucks is always located at city centers, places that are few minutes walk from public social infrastructures such as metro station, bus stations, hospitals, educational centers, train stations among others? Heavy foot traffics and conveniences are a major determinant. You do not need to find some products; rather the products will find you. In addition, it makes sure each of its outlets fit in within the locality in which it is situated without altering its coffee quality i.e it fits in with the local environment. For instance, a Starbucks outlet in Shanghai, China looks different from the one in Manila, in the Philippines.
Customer-Centric: Starbucks is a brand built on and around customers. A company that is adding on the average 2 stores per day must be doing something special to keep the customers coming back again. A critical observation shows that Starbucks knows their customer’s ordering history, their names and who they really are. In addition, Starbucks based its coffee innovations on creating fresh, and new ideas, products from customer feedback. By relying on customer feedback, Starbucks was able to know that customers intended to spend more time at its outlets and introduced Wi-Fi in the year 2010. When customers feel that they are important to the brand and have become an integral part of the company’s key decisions, they become a fan.
To build a successful company, a brand must on focus building a distinctive brand, while infusing great customer services, product quality, and innovations.
Game of Thrones is over now, but there is a clear winner, which is Starbucks.
Adetunji Bolorunduro has expertise in Business Strategy, Business Development and Chinese Investments in Africa. He writes regularly for Richtopia, Africa Business Chamber of Commerce among others.
In addition, he is a co-founder of China Link Education (www.china-link-edu.com) and AfricaCv.com