When it comes to coffee, the first name that comes to mind is Starbucks. The company has diehard fans and supporters. One of the reasons for this is the brand has been successful in forging personalized relationships with its customers and suppliers. It makes each customer feel special and this has won it fan-following throughout the world and not just in the U.S. The brand strives hard to make relationships central to content by forming partnering with consumers, vendors and suppliers. One can say this is the secret behind its success.
To reach the pinnacle, it was tough going. The media buying company had to work with the brand to reinvent itself and the brand to make it stand apart from its competition. The moment the company started giving importance to all stakeholders, it changed the way it was perceived.
When the company went public under Howard Schultz in 1992, everything was good. However, when Schultz stepped down as CEO in 2000, things began to dwindle and when Schultz returned in 2008, their stock had decreased in value to the point where the end seemed inevitable. Nevertheless, Schultz did not give up. He persevered and soon his work paid off. That near-end experience inspired and haunted the top management and they decided that they had to keep working to stay at the top.
Starbucks - Building Relationships
Starbucks realized that marketing involved building relationships and they hurried on to capitalize on this idea. So how did they do this? They tried their best to provide customers with comfort and peace at their stores. You may remain at a Starbucks store for hours on end without being subject to dirty looks by the management. Their goal has been to satisfy customers as best as they possibly can.
Apart from that, they formed relationships with various customers, businesses, non-profit organizations and others that would aid them in achieving a positive change. Each of these relationships has proven to be useful as they each bring a certain set of diverse skills and expertise to the table. By fostering these relationships, Starbucks has been able to come up with innovative ideas that help promote their ideas of ethical sourcing, community involvement and more. From a marketing company that runs communications, that's a great position to have.
To make relationship central to their content, some of the companies/ businesses that Starbucks has formed relationships with include:
- Abyssinian Development Corporation
- Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance
- National Recycling Coalition
- American Red Cross
- Association of Post Consumer Plastic Recyclers
- Business for Social Community
- Calvert Foundation
- Food Service Packaging Institute
Starbucks’ Relationship with Customers
Starbucks still remains on the help of affairs because of the various facilities they provide to customers. Not only do you get free Wi-Fi and the chance to hang out in comfy chairs all day, but they provide you with cups bearing your name and never forget your order.
Starbucks provides cards which are part of the Starbucks Rewards Loyalty Program. These cards seem to have caught on well with customers. They have become a marketing success story, with more than eight million U.S. participants. Further, they are also experimenting with walk-up kiosks and drive-throughs made from reclaimed steel containers to see if this goes well with customers. Even the best experiential marketing company judges at conferences are making note of these new approaches.
Starbucks is not just a business selling fresh cappuccino; it offers people an experience, a ‘third place’ between home and work where you can unwind and relax. Starbucks has stolen the hearts of their customers with their commitment to forging good relationships and this seems to have paid off for them. The story of Starbucks has inspired other businesses, both big and small, to form lasting relationships with all stakeholders.