An inspiring letter from Starbucks’ Howard Shultz on race in America

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Everyone in marketing talks about brand purpose. The role of brand purpose only becomes powerful when are you prepared to make decisions that stand by your purpose. Today’s letter from Howard Shultz is a great example of standing for what you believe in. He speaks very honestly about what he wanted Starbucks to be, where it fell short, and what he sees its role in race relations in America.

When the incidents at the Starbucks in Philadelphia took place, I’m sure it shocked a lot of people. It was wrong. It seemed against the values of Starbucks. I kept thinking how many times I’ve sat in a Starbucks waiting for a friend. It’s only natural not to order, until your friend gets there. Especially, if it is a business meeting. I thought the CEO did a great job in flying across the country to meet face-to-face with the two gentlemen.

Here is the full letter from Howard Shultz to customers of Starbucks

This afternoon Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores and begin a new chapter in our history.

In 1983 I took my first trip to Italy. As I walked the streets of Milan, I saw cafés and espresso bars on every street. When I ventured inside I experienced something powerful: a sense of community and human connection.

I returned home determined to create a similar experience in America—a new “third place” between home and work—and build a different kind of company. I wanted our stores to be comfortable, safe spaces where everyone had the opportunity to enjoy a coffee, sit, read, write, host a meeting, date, debate, discuss or just relax.

Today 100 million customers enter Starbucks® stores each week. In an ever-changing society, we still aspire to be a place where everyone feels welcome.

Sometimes, however, we fall short, disappointing ourselves and all of you.

Recently, a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called the police a few minutes after two black men arrived at a store and sat waiting for a friend. They had not yet purchased anything when the police were called. After police arrived they arrested the two men. The situation was reprehensible and does not represent our company’s mission and enduring values.

After investigating what happened, we determined that insufficient support and training, a company policy that defined customers as paying patrons—versus anyone who enters a store—and bias led to the decision to call the police. Our ceo, Kevin Johnson, met with the two men to express our deepest apologies, reconcile and commit to ongoing actions to reaffirm our guiding principles.

The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long-term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do.

Today we take another step to ensure we live up to our mission:

FOR SEVERAL HOURS THIS AFTERNOON, STARBUCKS WILL CLOSE STORES AND OFFICES TO DISCUSS HOW TO MAKE STARBUCKS A PLACE WHERE ALL PEOPLE FEEL WELCOME.

What will we be doing? More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do. This conversation will continue at our company and become part of how we train all of our partners.

Discussing racism and discrimination is not easy, and various people have helped us create a learning experience that we hope will be educational, participatory and make us a better company. We want this to be an open and honest conversation starting with our partners. We will also make the curriculum available to the public.

To our Starbucks partners: I want to thank you for your participation today and for the wonderful work you do every day to make Starbucks a third place for millions of customers.

To our customers: I want to thank you for your patience and support as we renew our promise to make Starbucks what I envisioned it could be nearly 40 years ago—an inclusive gathering place for all.

We’ll see you tomorrow.

With deep respect,

Howard

 

 

The love and tradition behind the Starbucks red cups

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

If you have been into a Starbucks the last few weeks, you’ll certainly feel the magic of the holiday season. 

 

Starbucks

 

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.

 

Starbucks

 

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 lifeAt 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.

 

Click on this to get to the article: 

John Lewis Christmas ads

Hope you are ready for the holidays