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Starbucks London Marketing

Starbucks' personal touch: The ultimate one-to-one channel

March 16, 2012 | 4 min read

Starbucks this week undertook a giveaway campaign that looks set to be the norm, and is something online sites have already begun to offer - something free for some data in return. The international coffee chain gaveaway a free latte in return for their first name, as the brand looked to create a more personal approach to engaging with customers. Ben Golik, creative director of Kitcatt Nohr Digitas offers his view.

Your name. Companies are always using it in emails, letters and 'personalised' pieces. It’s the Dear Sample short cut that’s meant to make marketing feel friendly and familiar.

Funny, then, that companies pretend to know you so well through their communications – but forget all about that face to face. It’s back to ‘Can I help you madam?’, or ‘Hi there’. Whoever ‘there’ is.

Starbucks UK has changed that.

This week they made the coffeehouse experience more personal, by having their Partners introduce themselves and ask customers to share their name.

How refreshing to see a big brand taking the plunge with a move as bold as this – a truly personal touch delivered by baristas rather than algorithms. It’s so easy to get caught up in data, tech and automation – perhaps we’ve lost sight of what personalisation really means?

And if you want to get to know someone personally – what better way to do that than to buy them a drink? So that’s just what Starbucks did – shouting all comers a free latte.

The promotion was a smart way for Starbucks to meet lots of people very quickly, and to spread the word about the day’s other big news – a stronger taste thanks to an extra shot of coffee in their Tall and Venti drinks. A change that also came out of getting to know people.

UK tastes have changed since Starbucks launched here – the market has matured, and so have customers' palates. Listening to customer feedback, and the experience of their baristas, led to the switch to a stronger taste.

Meeting people. Listening to them. Getting to know them better. It’s the stuff all good relationships are built on.

It’s all to easy to take a pop at big chains, but credit where it’s due - Starbucks has shown it understands the role coffee shops play in local communities, and in people’s daily lives.

It’s also nice to see statements like “your coffee just the way you like it” are more than just a copywriter’s fantasy. In fact, it’s a promise that staff have signed, by hand, on the in-store banner – another neat personal touch.

First people to hear about all this were My Starbucks Rewards cardholders – the people already most attached to the brand. They're used to being treated as individuals. So it’s great to see the personalised marketing they receive, extending to a more personal store experience.

Because without the ‘personal’ bit – ‘personalised’ is just a convenient data field fudge.

And being called by name sure beats being called Skinny Mocha. Or worse, Extra Hot With Cream On Top.

You’d never read them in a salutation. And now, you’ll never hear them in Starbucks store.


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