Coffee has become almost synonymous with Starbucks for the Millennial generation. The phrase, “let’s go get a coffee” almost always results in the iconic Starbucks cup that has taken over Instagram pictures and Twitter news feeds. Starbucks has become one of the top ranked brands for Millennials and many companies are looking towards Starbucks as inspiration for Millennial engagement.
What is about Starbucks that resonates so well with Generation Y? Even with the push for support of local businesses, how has the publically owned giant maintained such a positive reputation with Millennials? The answers to these questions can be broken down into one simple answer: Starbucks is talking the Millennial talk and walking the Millennial walk by going digital, offering relevant rewards and creating an environment where Millennials wants to be with other face-to-face.
Starbucks gone digital
It’s 2014 and Millennials are now speaking another language full of hashtags and abbreviations in 140 characters or less. Starbucks has completely adapted to this new communication style and are speaking to Millennials in a language they understand – social media. The Starbucks Instagram account has more than 2 million followers and Millennials are tagging the coffee company in their posts on a regular basis. Campaigns like Tweet-a-Coffee and the Starbucks app allow Millennials to share coffee and connect with each other through social media.
Rewards that engage Millennials
Over 70 percent of Millennials have said they will always come back to a brand they love. Starbucks successfully takes advantage of this loyalty by offering Millennials benefits for participating in the rewards program like free music and app downloads. The catch is, in order to be a part of the My Starbucks Rewards program, all purchases must be accounted for on the Starbucks app. Starbucks registers are equipped to read the bar codes on phone screens and it is now a common sighting to see a customer reach for their phone instead of their wallet when paying for their tall skinny vanilla lattes.
Reemergence of the face-to-face meeting
In the digital age, every interaction seems to be taking place online. Face-to-face interactions between Millennials are becoming less common. According to a study released by Cisco, 87 percent of Millennials value video streaming in the office as a means of communication. Even though Starbucks is a highly digitized company, it still creates an environment that makes Millennials feel like it is a part of the community. From family style seating to urban high-top tables, Starbucks creates an environment that aligns with Millennial culture and encourages face-to-face interactions.
With more than 20,000 stores in 61 countries, Starbucks has become the largest coffeehouse company in the world. Not only does the brand have loyal Millennial customers in the United States, but it also connects with the Millennial generation internationally. Starbucks lovers all around the world have an instant bond with each other that Director of Global Digital Marketing, Dan Beranek, defines as network branding.
Leah Swartz contributed to this post.