Starbucks’ Brand and Marketing Strategy

Description of Starbucks brand, sources of its equity and outcomes of equity

The firm’s brand is quality coffee served in a wonderful environment. The brand reflects the importance the company attaches to enhancing coffee drinking culture. The brand is rooted in three key components. The first component is the coffee itself. It is clear from the case study that Starbucks believes in offering the best coffee blends to its customers. Coffee is obtained from Africa, North and South America, and Europe.

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To ensure the continuously high quality of its coffee, the firm has been monitoring coffee growth in different continents where coffee beans are bought directly from farmers. It does this to avoid mixing different coffee beans that would compromise the quality of coffee drinks. Also, the firm monitors the coffee beans roasting process that produces different blends. In addition, Starbucks controls coffee supplies to various retail stores within its markets across the world.

The other component of the brand is service, often described as “customer intimacy” by the company. In fact, Starbucks has always created a lasting customer experience by offering excellent customer service. The firm believes that a satisfied customer is a great asset in any business organization. Through efforts aimed to understand and make customers loyal, a good number of customers visit Starbucks coffee shops as often as 18 times a month. The third crucial component of the Starbucks brand is a unique atmosphere. The firm understands that it is an atmosphere that would make customers frequent consumers of its coffee.

Thus, the firm has designed good sitting areas to enhance lounging and layouts that have an inviting environment. In fact, the company’s coffee shops are designed to encourage people to meet and share ideas away from home and workplaces.

The following are the sources of Starbucks brand equity: financial strength, brand diversity and consumer-based perceptions. A strong financial base has been key in expansion activities adopted by the firm. It has 4,500 coffee stores across the world and is in the process of opening three new coffee shops on a daily basis. Research shows that a company that has a solid financial base has strong equity and can expand to new markets across the world. The company has plans to spend about 40 million USD in the 4,500 coffee stores so that weekly service hours would be increased and customer satisfaction would also be improved.

The firm has used brand diversity to gain a competitive advantage against its competitors. It blends many types of coffee to ensure that all customers find their coffee of choice. Consumer-based perceptions have also helped the firm to increase its brand equity. The perceptions make customers frequent consumers of the various coffee blends. If customers increase the frequency of buying a product, then this would be reflected by increased product sales and profits of a company.

Quantitative research methods are used to collect financial data that are then analyzed using statistical tools. The results obtained give equity outcomes. On the other hand, customer-based perceptions data are collected using qualitative research methods. For example, the firm uses questionnaires to collect data from customers to know how it would improve customer service. The analysis of such data gives the brand equity outcomes.

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Evolution of the brand and marketing strategy from 1992 to 2002

In 1992, Starbucks was operating about 140 coffee shops and did not have a dominant specialty-coffee brand. At that time, it was selling both tea and coffee and was successfully competing against other coffee shops in North America. The proceeds realized from listing on the stock exchange enabled the owner of the firm to expand coffee stores across the world. In addition, the proceeds helped to position the brand in the market.

By 2002, the firm had 4,500 coffee shops and was in the process of opening more shops. The firm transformed the brand by making more customers loyal to coffee blends. Also, the brand transformation was done by designing excellent coffee shops that could allow customers to drink coffee as they socialized away from home and workplace. In addition, the firm was committed to promoting coffee culture among many people, hence strengthening the brand.

The case study informs that Starbucks did not have an elaborate marketing team. As a result, marketing was done by everyone in the firm. For example, the employees, who are referred to as partners, are supposed to market coffee blends to customers. In fact, it has been asserted that the success of any coffee blend is dependent on the efforts of partners in marketing it to consumers. The evolution of marketing strategy within the firm has enabled it to expand the number of retail shops from 140 in 1992 to 4,500 in 2002.

The expansion was supported by increasing demand and consumption of coffee blends across the world. Over the years, the company adopted a product innovation, which increased the number of coffee blends. In 2002, Starbucks started accepting payments from smart cards. The new method of payment strategically marketed the brand.

Brand strategy

Market competition is strong, and the current brand needs to be modified so that it would remain strong. The company has to form a strong marketing team that would collect customers’ data and analyzes them for the benefits of the firm. Depending on the customers’ feedback, the brand would be modified to reflect their needs. In order to maintain the strength of the brand, the firm should encourage everyone, especially members of the marketing team, to use the data that is collected from customers. It is clear from the case study that data collected within the company are not used to understand market dynamics.

Efforts should be made to increase the level of differentiation between Starbucks coffee products and those from its competitors. This would ensure that the brand is strong in the market. The brand should also be redefined to focus on the right things that would make more customers loyal to the firm’s coffee blends. The current figures show that the firm is more interested in making money and setting up new coffee shops than satisfying customers.

In addition, the brand should be modified to encourage young adults, middle-aged and old people to consume coffee blends of the company. This would be done by changing customer behavior, which would result in an increase in the customer visit frequency. Finally, the brand should reflect the needs of customers. Currently, there is a low level of customer satisfaction because the brand does not focus on meeting the needs of customers. If customers would be satisfied, then they would be loyal to the firm’s coffee blends and refer many potential customers to the company’s coffee shops.

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