Part of the Solution?

You might have noticed a little something extra while standing in line at your local Starbucks, wristbands. For five dollars, you too can support the cause. Starbucks has “teamed up with the Opportunity Finance Network® (OFN) to create and sustain jobs. We call it the Create Jobs for U.S.A. Program. It will provide capital grants to select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs will provide financing to underserved community businesses which include small business loans, community center financing, housing project financing and microfinance” (Starbucks).

One of our readings in Organizational Psychology this past week entitled Restorying a Culture of Ethical and Spiritual Values: A Role for Leader Storytelling written by Cathy Driscoll and Margaret McKee look at the impact the CEOs or high executives have among their employees. Discussion about this article primarily focused on religion, but I argue that it is less about imposing religious beliefs, and more about instilling values. In a top-down corporation like Starbucks, Howard Schultz has not been a passive player. His opinions have been made very clear, and the ripples in the current are definitely making waves. In fact, he has recently received backlash/been glorified (depending on what side of the fence you’re on) because of his letter to America. It made me wonder, is this his place? Is he using his power and position to do good or to push his own agendas? Is Mr. Schultz part of the problem by encouraging polarization of both sides of these issues, or is he using his power for good? After all, what is bad about creating jobs? With the economy the way that is has been lately, we have seen everything from bailouts to now wristbands. When will it end–and more importantly how will it end?

Yahoo news posted an article today entitled Employers post most job openings in 3 years is this a coincidence? If not, how do you think this will change the way companies market? How will we as members and consumers of society be able to decipher between profit and motive?

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 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/business/media/19starbux.html 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?