Starbucks: “Significant Investment, Significant Return”

Starbucks, the number one consumer brand on Facebook, understands, “Traditional marketing is changing dramatically. You can’t push people. You have to engage them in a conversation and they have to trust the source”-Howard Schultz, CEO and Chairman.

The New York Times article shows how the company directly applied social networking and digital media to their marketing strategies. Starbucks recently unveiled new advertising posters and invitied its consumers to search for the posters. A competitive twist was incorporated by being the first to post a photo of one of the advertisements on Twitter.

With the economic downturn, those who frequent the coffee chain are having a hard time rationalizing a five dollar white mocha each morning. Especially when McDonalds offers coffee at a fraction of the price. After all, coffee is coffee, right? Wrong, according to Starbucks. It should not come as a shock to us students of Human Behavior, Starbucks doesn’t only sell coffee, they sell a third-place environment; not home, not work, but Starbucks. The article, however, is quick to emphasize the quality of the brand. “The full-page newspaper ads goes to some length to describe how Starbucks selects only the best 3 percent of beans and roasts them until they pop twice, and gives its part-time workers health insurance.”

What is really quite genius about the brand is how they studied the embedded habits of social media users and were able to integrate their marketing campaign around behaviors that were already occurring, not the other way around. “The idea for the Starbucks photo contest came from watching what people already do on Facebookand Twitter.” The  brand was able to capitalize on behaviors that their customers were already participating in.

“It’s the difference between launching with many millions of dollars versus millions of fans.”

True, Starbucks probably spent quite a chunk of change on the new poster advertisement, (the wouldn’t reveal the exact cost) but that wasn’t their most significant breakthrough. Instead, it was what it translated to, a conversation online. While McDonalds spent 100 million dollars are their marketing campaign against Starbucks and other top competitors, Starbucks realized their strongest campaign was to join the one that was already alive and well within social media. How can your brand join the conversation?


Coloring Inside the Lines, Psych.

Psychological and sociological theories explain much of we do as human beings. The MHB program aims to not only understand these often-subconscious behaviors, but also capitalize on them. Color psychology is a field in which we as marketers, advertisers, and future men and women of business, can directly apply to our own strategies. Research has shown that colors, and the connotations they imply, have the power to modify the physiological and mental status of any given individual.

A study by Wohlfarth and Sam found that both blood pressure and hostile behavior may be changed by altering the light spectrum within an individual’s surroundings.  First and perhaps most importantly, one must take an inventory of the product or brand they want to market. What type of impressions do you want the public to associate with your brand? Let’s examine this theory further by applying it to brands we already know:

Yellow is the color of hope and imagination. Bright yellows represent sunshine, joy and happiness. No wonder kids love the golden arches!

Red: color of heat, passion and excitement. It easily grabs attention and evokes speed and energy. Need I say more?

Pink: is the color most associated with youth. It exemplifies energy, amusement and excitement.

Light blue: Favorite among anxious and depressed people

The article points out that it is important to realize that in different demographics or geographical locations, colors are associated with different attitudes and perspectives. Therefore, it is even more appropriate to consider your target audience and their cultural associations than normal.

Brand aesthetics are an essential tool to market branding and advertising, but in the end, it is the quality and reputation of the product that will prove to be most useful. Although there is something to be said for color psychology and the associations it creates. The importance of color doesn’t lie within the lines, it lies within the meanings the color creates.