Is it me - or is Starbucks becoming more and more like a great radio station? Or the kind of station we'd all want to work for?
After I bought some shares of their stock, they sent me a special "shareholders card," loaded up with $3.50. Every time I use it (yes, I loaded it up with cash), I am greeted as someone special at every Starbucks store I visit. They recognize me not just as a customer, but as someone who has invested in their business (or the Super P1 that I am).
They do more than serve coffee (i.e. play music) because I can get cheaper coffee at Dunkin' Donuts or the equivalent at Caribou. Starbucks stores have a vibe, a lifestyle, and an atmosphere. Their people are always friendly, the music is interesting (which is why they are successfully selling tons of it), and they understand that their business is about more than selling mochas. They make their customers feel wanted and comfortable in a world that is frantic, inconsistent, and often unsettling.
Like NPR, Starbucks understands they are not just providing beverages to their customers, but are tapping into the core values of their guests. Aspects of these values include charity, environmental concerns, and technology (music downloading, XM channel, etc.), and deepen their relationships, and bind them emotionally to the brand.
The newest innovation is "The Way I See It" series that's printed on their cups. These are clever, thoughtful quotes from everyone from Keith Olbermann to Al Franken to Goldie Hawn to Ken Burns. And now they are "peopletizing" this series by inviting customers to submit their own sayings and thoughts, some of which will show up on future cups (like "Guest DJ" done right). What a grande concept!