I was initially going to write a very quick mention that Starbucks is looking to better merge its online and offline viral marketing activities, which I think is a great idea. In this economy, a lot of people’s first discretionary cutback is a $4 latte. Starbucks has had an uphill battle to climb in a lot of ways regardless of the recession. More and more coffee chains have gained momentum, such as Peets. But more importantly, McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts as well as a few other fast food chains have begun what amounts to a major price war with Starbucks.
Think about it – for slightly less quality you can get a mocha iced latte (that is pretty huge) for under $2 a McDonalds, while a smaller version at Starbucks is four bucks.
Starbucks has to sell on experience. And I think it has a lot to figure out. Wifi? Yeah, not always free. Atmosphere? Hmmm, some locations seem comfortable while others are not much more inviting than the airport Starbucks kiosk with no seating.
So, all these thoughts came to a head when I read a blog about the initiative – here. What I realized is that the post had some newsy information, but as with many posts, the real value is in the comments. While there were only four real comments – the polarity of them speaks volumes. There is a large disconnect between those that see Starbucks as simply pushing $4 “coffee” (not specialty drinks) and those that get the idea that Starbucks is a destination apart from the pricey java.
I think Starbucks gets this. But in the bigger picture, especially around less identifiable brands – is focusing on the interactions in social media, not the (at times) mono-directional rants and news blurbs in blogs. I think that is why Twitter is becoming such a popular channel to monitor. It is essentially an endless series of blog comments – short, sweet, and inherently to the point.
I have long been a proponent of unstructured data management. Even before web 2.0 data exploded all over the universe – I saw the value of capturing and analyzing text. Now, instead of simply trying to make sense of the blogosphere – the interactions that are a sub-set of the millions of blogs out there could prove to be the real wellspring of brand sentiment and customer voices.