Every day I wake up craving a Salted Caramel Mocha. I know I can’t afford to give in to that craving and pay the $4 for it more than once or twice a month, especially when I drink it like it’s water (as in, it’s gone about a minute after the barista puts it in my hand). But it’s weird to think I suddenly can’t go a day without thinking about coffee when three years ago I never would have put coffee near my lips, no matter how fancy it was. Three years ago, I barely noticed the Starbucks on every other street corner. Where did they come from?
Starbucks was founded in 1971 and now has 24, 464 locations worldwide, but they didn’t start using traditional advertising until their “Meet Me At Starbucks” campaign in 2014. Before then and since then, they’ve let their partners do the advertising for them and gone back to their word of mouth methods. And still, Starbucks only trailed McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain with 36,525 locations worldwide, by 6.5 billion U.S. dollars in sales in 2015.
How did you first hear about Starbucks? There are a few options (about two, actually). Either you heard someone talk about it or you stopped at a busy intersection and saw one on either side of the street. Now you can’t stop seeing it. At first, people didn’t want to spend so much money on a cup of coffee, but now it’s something loyal customers set aside money for. And those are the same loyal customers—the converts, if you will—who can’t stop talking about their new favorite drinks, saying, “Do you want to get coffee at Starbucks?”
19.16 billion dollars in revenue last year, up from 16.45 billion dollars the year before, and 14.9 billion dollars before that, and so on. So when it comes down to it, is fancy, expensive advertising really what a company needs to make it big? Or is it a great product, a great atmosphere, and great customers?
If you want, we can talk about it more over a cup of coffee.