Few companies target the millennial generation as well as Starbucks has. With more than 20,000 stores in 61 countries, Starbucks has become the largest coffeehouse company in the world.
How has Starbucks managed to overcome the push for local businesses and sustain a consistent following from Generation Y?
Starbucks lovers all around the world have an instant bond with each other that Director of Global Digital Marketing Dan Beranek defines as network branding.
This coffee company knows exactly how to reach out to millennials, taking advantage of digital marketing, creating reward incentives, and fostering a space where millennials want to meet face-to-face.
1. Creating a digital customer following
Members of the millenial generation are used to speaking in 140 characters or less, using hashtags even when they aren’t tweeting. Starbucks has adapted to this new communication style by speaking in a language millenials can understand — social media.
The Starbucks Instagram account has more than two million followers. Millennials are tagging the coffee company in their posts on a regular basis. Campaigns like Tweet-a-Coffee and the Starbucks app allow millennials to connect with each other through social media, share their coffee interests, and create even more sales for the company.
2. Engaging millenials through rewards
More than 70 percent of millennials have said they will always come back to a brand they love. Starbucks successfully takes advantage of this loyalty by offering millennials benefits such as free music and app downloads for participating in the rewards program. The catch? In order to be a part of the My Starbucks Rewards program, all purchases must be accounted for on the Starbucks app.
Starbucks registers are equipped to read the bar codes on phone screens, and it is common to see customers reaching for their phones instead of their wallets when paying for a tall skinny vanilla latte.
3. Reviving the face-to-face meeting
In the digital age, every interaction seems to be taking place online, and face-to-face interactions between millennials are becoming less common.
According to a study released by Cisco, 87 percent of millennials value video streaming in the office as a means of communication.
Even though Starbucks is a highly digitized company, it still evokes the feeling that it is part of the community. From family-style seating to urban high-top tables, the company’s coffeehouses create an environment that encourages face-to-face interactions.
Starbucks has helped in-person meetings reemerge in popular culture, connecting business professionals or groups of old friends with the common phrase “let’s go get a coffee.”
Leah Swartz contributed to this post.
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.