Why Starbucks Is a Great Online Marketing Partner

If you’re looking for a way to boost your business, you’ve probably considered diving into the digital world of online marketing. After all, 96% of Americans use the internet to research products before buying them in-store. If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already aware of how much power social media holds in terms of influencing and engaging customers. Maybe you’ve even tried using social media to gain more traction with your target audience. If so, then you know how challenging it can be to combat the constant flow of content that pours in from all over the world. Even experienced marketers can struggle to keep up with all the digital tools and tricks of the trade.

Starbucks’ Approach

If you’re looking for a way to make your marketing more strategic and grounded in data, then Starbucks is the company you should partner with. As a market research firm, Penn Schoen Berland (PSB)’s Senior Manager of Marketing and Brand Research, Renee Kooi, explains that from a marketing perspective, “Starbucks is ahead of the curve in terms of using marketing research as a tool to understand consumer behavior and develop marketing strategies.”

Kooi adds that the company uses large-scale consumer panel surveys to gain reliable and actionable information about consumer preferences. These survey-based insights are then used to create distinct market segments and targeted marketing campaigns. This rigorous, proprietary approach to market research and analysis forms the backbone of Starbucks’ powerful online marketing strategy.

The Insights Behind Starbucks’ Success

Starbucks is incredibly relevant to today’s marketers due to the fact that their research methodologies and applied analytics are used to power their marketing campaigns. The company’s groundbreaking research and insights-driven approach to marketing can be traced back to the early days of their existence. Founder and retailer, Howard Schultz, built the business upon his keen desire to understand the motivations of his consumers. As a result, the company’s marketing strategies are built around three key areas of analysis:

Product Awareness

In the early days of Starbucks, retailing was vastly different compared to what it is today. Back in the day, a customer would walk into a Starbucks store and immediately feel as if they were in a candy shop. There were no laptops, no cell phones, and no internet. In those days, a store manager would attend to the customer while a barista would take their order and deliver it. Naturally, those days are long gone, and today’s Starbucks is a veritable treasure trove of analytics relating to shopping behavior, customer experience, and product awareness. (In case you’re curious, here’s a link to the full Starbucks archive.)

Starbucks’ Product Awareness Report explores the trends shaping our shopping behaviors, from the products that excite us to the experiences that make us eager to buy, to the retail platforms that allow us to do it efficiently and effectively.

The Product Awareness Report examines how and why consumers buy the products they buy, and it looks at the key factors influencing those decisions. One of the most interesting findings relates to the fact that millennials are now participating in the retail buying journey more than any other generation. Specifically, Gen Z and millennials are more likely to discover products they want and need through online retail channels, such as Amazon.

Customer Experience

The term ‘millennial buyer’ is used rather loosely these days as every generation seems to have its own unique shopping habits. However, there are some notable similarities between today’s shoppers and the millennials who came before them. One of these similarities is that they’re both incredibly digital and research-oriented. (And, let’s be honest, most millennials grew up in the age of the internet and social media, so it’s not really a feat to be able to navigate these channels efficiently and effectively.)

According to the Customer Experience Report by market research firm, Accenture, “consumers now have more information than ever before, which drives more convenience and convenience-based shopping behaviors.” This is why it’s important for brands to provide a positive customer experience. If a brand can create a positive experience, even if the product is not of the highest quality, the customer will still feel like it’s worth it. This is a lot harder to do than it seems, but it’s essential if you want your customers to feel like you’re providing value and that you care about their needs.

Market Orientation

Last but not least, let’s not forget about Howard Schultz’s original vision for Starbucks. At the time, retailing was very different, and the company had to find its own way, trial and error, and develop a strong reputation in the marketplace. This process took time, but eventually, Starbucks became known for its incredible customer experience and grew to become one of the most recognizable and valuable brand in our society.

Now, more than 70 years later, Starbucks is still committed to providing the best possible experience for their customers. This dedication to quality is what allowed them to establish a unique reputation in an imperfect world. It’s also what makes them such an effective online marketing partner, because rather than being a one-trick pony, they can actually help you grow your business through data-driven marketing.

With all that said, let’s explore how you can partner with Starbucks to improve your own marketing strategy.

How Starbucks Can Help Improve Marketing ROI

Thanks to modern-day technology and the internet, it’s possible to find any information you want in a matter of seconds. This is a massive problem for marketers who need to sift through tons of content to find what’s relevant to their industry and target audience. (If you’re looking to increase your productivity, why not try using HubSpot to manage your business’ marketing and sales efforts. It can help you organize your work, plan your marketing strategy, and identify the results of your efforts. You can integrate HubSpot with Gmail, so you can quickly reply to emails as they come in. Using this tool will undoubtedly increase your sales and reduce your marketing bounce rate.

When a company like Amazon springs up with all sorts of new products to choose from, it can be difficult for retailers to keep up. Especially since brands have to commit to buying huge chunks of stock, often at significant cost. For these reasons, it’s important for retailers to work with the right partners. (If you’re looking for an example of a retail brand that successfully partnered with a research firm, take a look at Restoration Hardware. (Yahoo Finance did a feature on RH and their partnership with market research firm NPD Group.))

Working with a firm like NPD that specializes in consumer surveys and market research, Restoration Hardware could identify key consumer trends, such as fashion and design-focused millennial shoppers, and plan targeted marketing campaigns around these insights. Through in-house market research, NPD can help brick-and-mortar retailers figureheads understand the effectiveness of their online and mobile-based strategies. (And online marketing strategies, for that matter.)

The great thing about working with a company like NPD is that they can help you measure the results of your marketing efforts. By analyzing the results of campaigns and activities, you can determine the true ROI of your strategy. So, while it’s always tempting to just throw money at an advertising campaign with the intention of increasing sales, it’s essential to remember that you’re also investing in expensive marketing tools, talent, and research.

Why Starbucks Is a Great Online Marketing Partner

Now, let’s get to the good stuff, which is why Starbucks is such an incredible online marketing partner. First of all, the company is extremely data-driven, so you’ll have access to a treasure trove of marketing insights. If you’re looking for a ready-made audience, they may already be listening to your message and could engage with you on social media. (I’m sure many of your readers are already fans of the brand on social media, so you know exactly what kind of audience you’re targeting.) As we mentioned earlier, 96% of Americans research products online, so you can assume that this is a very responsive audience.

Another great thing about Starbucks is that they have an incredible brand identity that they consistently enforce. Despite all the changes the company has gone through since its inception, one thing has remained the same: Howard Schultz’s commitment to quality. This authenticity gives Starbucks a level of trust with their customers that other brands aren’t able to match.