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MARKETING CASE STUDY
"The Unicorn Frappuccino"

In 1971, was the birth of the now most well known coffee company in the world, Starbucks! The first store was located in Seattle Washington and now there are a total of 25,085 cafe stores worldwide. In the beginning, Starbucks used to only offer brewed coffee and espresso beverages, but now we see a variety of drinks and even foods in their menus. In April 19 the limited edition Unicorn Frappuccino was released and only available for 5 days. This caffeine free color changing rainbow like drink made up of pink powder, blended into a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup and layered with a pleasantly sour blue drizzle made headlines. All together, the Unicorn Frappuccino, fittingly, seems both sweet and a little sour. It was introduced to become a springtime Frappuccino blended beverage that captured the attention of the public and their youths who don't drink coffee beverages. This insanely sugary drink become so popular that they were selling out like wild fire.






Starbucks's value proposition:
  • Coffee: they are know for their high quality coffee that were sourced from Africa and the pacific regions. They worked directly with growers and supervised the roasting process and distribution.
  • Service: since Starbucks is in the people business, their goal is to provide the best customer service. It is something called "customer intimacy", that friendly connection between the baristas and customers. The baristas are specially trained to chit chat with customers and even remember their names.
  • Atmosphere: they have successfully offered customers a comfortable environment outside their homes and work place. All Starbucks stores layout were designed to invite customers to stay longer in the store while taking their time to enjoy their cup of coffee.




The relevance to marketing are:

Background: When making the drink they were inspired by the unicorn themes trending on social media, which includes unicorn emojis and filters on social media apps. For months, people have been posting unicorn themed food and drinks all across Facebook, twitter and Instagram, which inspired Starbucks to give people what they wanted.

Awareness day: on April 9th national unicorn day was celebrated and thousands of trending hashtags were announced that day #nationalunicornday. 10 days after that was the release of the mystical drink. Although starbucks did not confirm capitalizing that day, its hard to deny the connection.

Social media: photos of the drink were leaked on social media before it was even announced to the public, and that created a huge excitement and suspense for consumers, especially to Starbucks's fans. It became so viral that if you search #unicornfrappucino you will find more than 100,00 images of the Unicorn drink.





The beauty about social media is that the marketing is done for you and Starbucks lovers played a big role in creating this free advertisement. Not only did Starbucks achieved in bringing in younger customers but also brought in people who have never been to Starbucks before.




Discussion questions:
  1. What do you think about the unicorn Frappuccino?
  2. Should Starbucks continue making more caffeine free beverages or stick to the traditional coffee drinks?
  3. A lot of Starbucks barista's complained about making so much unicorn Frappuccino, is their complaint reasonable despite it being part of their job description?




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