Marketing motives

Posted by: Sara Grasmon

starbucks_logo1Last Saturday started just like any other Saturday. Slept in a little, went to the office for a bit and ran some errands. Nothing thrilling, that is until I passed a Starbucks. Typically, I wouldn’t just stop on impulse, but after a long week, I decided I deserved a treat. As I walked into the shop, I noticed there was a somewhat long line but didn’t think too much of it. When I got to the register, I found out why there was a crowd.

I ordered my drink (grande iced coffee with nonfat milk, one pump sugar-free vanilla) and was then asked if I wanted a Starbucks Petites as the barista gestured to the top shelf of the display case. There was an array of beautiful baked goods, and she told me I got to choose which one I wanted — for FREE. I picked a pretty little Tiramisu Cake Pop. It was yummy.

When I returned to my apartment, I started researching, because aside from making my day, this giveaway sparked my interest. I discovered that Starbucks is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and this promotion was part of the festivities. The official deal was a free Petites with the purchase of a drink March 10-12 from 2-5 p.m. each day. Knowing what the offer was, I put on my marketing hat to determine Starbucks’ marketing motives:

1. Many companies have customer appreciation events or giveaways, especially when reaching a milestone. For Starbucks, a 40th anniversary celebration just happens to be an excellent time to offer a perk for patrons — and not just the one they get from their coffee.

2. Starbucks faithfuls tend to have a go-to order, which makes incorporating different menu items more challenging. Offering free samples of Petites is the perfect way to introduce new products to the consumer base. Odds are, at least some of the people who received free Petites liked them enough to purchase some in the future. I did.

3. Logic tells us that 2-5 p.m. is probably not peak hours for a coffee house. This special offer served as a traffic driver to increase business during a slow time of day, and more traffic in a store means more revenue in the bank.

This promotion turned what I was expecting to be an average stop into something special, and it left me, and I’m sure others, with a positive image of Starbucks. So, no matter what your marketing motives are, find a way to make something ordinary be extraordinary.

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