Charbucks No More? Starbucks Dabbles in Authentic Branding and CX
This week, I started seeing news about a new coffee shop in the mocha Mecca of Seattle. With excellent post-industrial reclamation design and high-quality, manual-process coffee-making methods on the bar, it piqued my coffee nerd senses. Digging deeper, I was shocked to find that the "Reserve Roastery" is merely an undercover operation from the corporate chain Starbucks. "Sacrilege!" I cried. But reflecting more, there's a marketing lesson to be learned here: Good ole Charbucks is actually trying to make a foray into the worlds of authentic branding and customer experience.
Shedding the overly-branded green cups and cloyingly trendy menu of #PumpkinSpiceLattes, the new Reserve Roastery shop instead focuses back on the point of the whole thing: coffee, and the experience behind it. In a New York Times piece on the venture, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says, "We're going to take the customer on a journey, immersing them in an interactive environment where they'll be introduced to handcrafted, small-batch coffees within feet of where they're being roasted." There are those words again that marketers seem to hear on a daily basis: "customer" and "journey."
In case you've missed it, "Customer Experience," "CX," or "Customer Journey" have snuck in and overtaken a good portion of the marketing jargon dictionary. Like it or not, they're here to stay, and everyone from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks are getting with the times.
Starbucks is a surprising case, as no one could have predicted they'd shed the chintzy sheen of a well-established brand and try to branch out into this kind of marketing. It remains to be seen whether or not this pilot Reserve Roastery will go anywhere, or not, but one thing is for sure: Creating a customer experience and making your brand true-blue authentic are marketing concepts that are here to stay.