This is the fourth in a 5-post series and we’re continuing on through the business concepts in my book Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.
In the context of my principle, Mobilize the Connection, I talked with, then CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz about digital transformation. He noted, “We started before there was a digital revolution; the third place was our stores. Our mobile focus has evolved to the point where everyone is getting primary information and communicating in a way that was nonexistent before. I don’t think any enterprise or organization can exist in the future without having a primary relevant position in the minds and hearts of people through a digital platform. Many brands will come and go in terms of relevancy and trust in the digital world, as trust and relevance will be harder to maintain digitally than through a physical presence.”
At the core of Starbucks’ successful digital strategy have been several interrelated areas that attempt to connect with customers from the broad mass market to the one-to-one. The five key components of Starbucks evolving digital strategy have been 1) commerce, 2) company-owned web and mobile channels, 3) loyalty/customer relationship management (e.g., the company’s CRM/targeted database), 4) social media, and 5) paid digital marketing.
Early on, Starbucks’ mobile strategy was linked to gifting, and its mobile app, and ultimately to a robust rewards program. Initially, leaders developed a physical Starbucks gift card. When you gave that card to a friend and they registered it on the Starbucks website, your friend could either manually or auto-replenish it. Over time that card became integrated into the Starbucks app, which garnered breakthrough adoption as a mobile payment tool in the United States. Further evolutions have led to mobile ordering and a gamified loyalty program. The constant in the Starbucks technology journey has been to mobilize the connection Starbucks baristas forge in-stores and maintain engagement with the customer – on the customer’s terms.
Given Starbucks’ emphasis on using technology as an extender of human relationships and the brand’s multi-pronged digital strategy, here are this week’s challenge questions:
- How consistently (throughout economic ups and downs) do you invest in technology?
- What factors guide your technology investments?
- Are you using technology to mobilize human connections with your brand? If so, how?
- Does your digital strategy integrate multiple approaches to engage people across a mass-market and individually?