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Starbucks whips up clever SMS, MMS campaign for summer drink buzz

April 25, 2014

starbucksStarbucks is taking a whimsical approach in its latest mobile messaging marketing program to drive interest and sales for its popular Frappuccino drink during the summer months.

This week Starbucks launched mobile calls-to-action for its “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” SMS and MMS opt-in program. Starbucks also announced its second-quarter 2014 results yesterday, with mobile continuing to play a significant role for the company’s revenue.

“While many retailers — including many food and beverage QSRs — continue to grapple with how to navigate these shifts, Starbucks’ record Q2 results unacquittedly demonstrate how the investments we’ve began making years ago to create the world’s premier portfolio of digital, social and mobile technology assets are paying off, and in a very big way,” said Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, Seattle, during a call with analysts yesterday.

“Our integrated gift card, loyalty, social and mobile platform is barnone the largest and most successful in the world,” he said.

Creative coffee

Starbucks’ calls-to-action are appearing on Twitter, Facebook and via messages in the inbox of the Starbucks’ mobile application.

The coffee giant posted a message to its Facebook page encouraging consumers to text the keyword STRAW to 22122 next ton image of a Frappuccino with eyes drawn on it. The copy reads: “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs? This guy.”

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Starbucks’ Facebook post

Another message within Starbucks’ iPhone app message inbox prompted the keyword WOOHOO to the same short code.

Creative for the campaign features different humorous takes on how much some consumers love the drink.

After consumers text in the keywords, they are sent back a message welcoming them to Starbucks’ summer SMS and MMS program.

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Starbucks’ summer-themed SMS program

At the time of press, Starbucks has sent out two GIFs, both of which feature fun images of animals.

The first image depicts a cat holding a Frappuccino that then disappears as a kaleidoscope of color shoots out of the cats’ paws.

The second image is similar with a picture of an eagle dancing with a drink in its hand.

Consumers will receive up to six SMS and six MMS messages per month in exchange for opting in.

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Starbucks’ SMS program

Starbucks is most recognized in mobile marketing for its commerce app that lets consumers earn rewards and pay for food and drink items.

However, the brand has run several campaigns in the past year that use content in some interesting ways.

The coffee giant ran a similar campaign last year to gear up for summer and cold drink sales.

Last spring, the coffee house chain sent opted-in users an SMS trivia contest offering a chance to win a prize and encouraging them to sign up to receive summer alerts. Starbucks was then able to determine the kind of device users have so it could follow up with a MMS message containing a short video and information about an in-store Happy Hour special offer (see story).

The coffee giant also recently teamed up with the New York Times to drive awareness of the publication’s new NYT Now subscription app (see story).

Additionally, Starbucks ran holiday-themed ads within the Flipboard iPhone last year to drive traffic to a digital magazine of themed content (see story).

Soaking up mobile payments
During the call, Mr. Schultz said that mobile represents 14 percent of Starbucks’ sales within the United States, representing a 75 percent year-over-year increase.

The brand has recently rolled out a couple of new features that are aimed at making the payment process easier (see story).

The My Starbucks reward program is now available in 28 countries, and transactions made via the card account for more than one-third of all sales in the United States and Canada.

Ten million of these members are accessing Starbucks’ mobile payment app, representing twice the number of users a year ago.

Digital is also playing a big role in Starbucks’ partnership with Teavana (see story).

“We are putting the full power of Starbucks digital, mobile, social and rewards program against all of the assets that we have against the Teavana brand, affording us the unique ability to target and connect with consumers providing us with the unparalleled advantage in the marketplace,” Mr. Schultz said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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