If you have been into a Starbucks the last few weeks, you’ll certainly feel the magic of the holiday season.
Every Starbucks feels well-decorated but never overstated. You can smell peppermint and ginger as soon as you walk in. If you want to add some flavor to your regular Latte, you can go for a Caramel Brûlé, Eggnog or Peppermint. And if you want to try one of the Christmas desserts, there’s Gingerbread loaf, Frosted Snowman cookies or the Cranberry Bliss Bar. Better yet, have you had one of those incredible Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops?
And of course, there is the Starbucks Red Cup.
As the red cups arrived at Starbucks as early as November 1st, you could see the Facebook posts and my 15-year-old daughter was “SO EXCITED” (her words) But it is such a great understated brand cue for Starbucks to link into the holiday season. They are in year 10 of the cups, and it’s become something we now connect with the modern-day world of Christmas.
When you look online, you’ll see how big these little red cups are. There is a website dedicated to the countdown. And of course, there are tons of tweets about the Red Cups, every time a consumer has one for the first time, signaling their excitement to all their network. That’s tons of free media.
Starbucks is a beloved brand
In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.
When you reach the Beloved stage like Starbucks, it becomes all about the experience and the magical moments you can create. While you can continue to attack yourself before others can attack you, it’s also about maintaining the love by creating a bit of magic to surprise and delight your most loyal consumers. For a brand that taps into a routine, having a regular set of drinks and desserts around Christmas gives the consumers some festive favorites to liven up the routine a little bit. Being a life ritual each and every day gets even bigger when you become a tradition each Christmas.
Christmas starts early
From a pure business point of view, Christmas starts November 1st all the way to December 31st, which means that one-sixth of the year, you are in red cups. After 10 years of red cups, Starbucks fully understands how the simple gesture connects with consumers and how it links Starbucks to one of those holiday traditions.
“When the cups turn red at Starbucks, that’s one of the first cues that the holidays are upon us. The emotional connection that our store partners (employees) have when they open that first box of the red cups and start using them that first day, and the emotional connection they see from their customers, that’s what we strive for. They see that surprise and excitement: ‘Oh, the red cups are at Starbucks!”
– Terry Davenport, Senior Vice President, Global Brand
On top of that Starbucks now has captured the entire calendar with specials around Valentines, St Paddy’s Day, Easter, Summer Drinks and Halloween (personally, I love the pumpkin stuff).
To stay in the holiday spirit, you can read up on how John Lewis has been using Christmas ads for the past 5 years to really connect with the consumer.
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Hope you are ready for the holidays