By Gabe Thomas
What role does experiential marketing play in the way a brand is viewed? Is it possible for branding to change people’s habits? An article from Wen-Jung Chang explored how a study on the famous brand Starbucks was able to use marketing and brand loyalty to exponentially grow the amount of coffee consumed by people in Taiwan.
While people in the U.S. have been using coffee as a way to get their morning started for decades, this isn’t the case worldwide. It is only within recent years that coffee consumption has begun to skyrocket in Taiwan, but it is currently at “2.3 billion cups of coffee per year” (Chang, 2020). The leading coffee brand in Taiwan is Starbucks, and while many people can’t function without their morning coffee, it is clear that the rate of growth seen in Taiwan is about much more than just the coffee alone.
Starbucks has used an important integrated marketing tactic called experiential marketing, which attempts to deeply engage the customer in their brand and in efforts to sell you “not just coffee, but a sense of affection and belonging” (Chang, 2020). Companies have used experiential marketing to cater to the idea that by selling an experience to your customer, you can hope to engage with them in ways that make them excited to return again. In the case of Starbucks, everything from the decorations inside the store, to the music playing while you wait, and engagement with the barista making your drink is deliberately creating an experience within the customer that is not only memorable but creates a positive brand image that will get you to come back.
The Importance of Image
Brand image is crucial to building loyalty among consumers, but this is not something that happens by accident. The way that you view a brand is often the direct result of deliberate marketing and brand communication efforts. When breaking down the image of Starbucks in Taiwan, it can be done through “identity, personality, association, behavior and attitude and competence and benefit” (Chang, 2020).
Starbucks’ identity is in its enjoyable experience and has a personable personality that makes you feel connected in order to further the experience. It can be associated with fun, relaxation, or even an environment to get work done, and all of these factors play a role in the image created when you think of this brand. It is fascinating to see how well the results of Starbucks’ positive brand image have changed the habits of those it reaches worldwide.
Loyalty is the Goal
When you attempt to dig deeper into the why of marketing, the ultimate reason is so companies can create loyal customers. Selling a product to a returning customer creates significantly higher results than selling to a new customer, which Starbucks showed to be true with the national coffee intake increasing by “20% in the last two years” (Chang, 2020).
One of the ways that Starbucks has attempted to improve customer loyalty is through their mobile app. Customers are able to order online and receive their order faster, as well as receive rewards and free drinks the more they go. While this alone does not create a loyal customer, the many other efforts to create positive experiences and brand images are all tactics that have seen great results.
The Relationship Between Image, Experience, and Loyalty
Image, experience, and loyalty are all key to a brand’s success. The results of Starbucks’ success placed a large emphasis on the experience of the customer, and this combined with a positive brand image has created loyalty within their brand that impacts a nation. The positive experience of a customer instead leads to a positive brand image, and the combination of both experience and brand image then both have a massive impact on the loyalty of the company. If a company is able to master the combination of brand image, customer experience, and product loyalty, they just may be able to change the habits of a nation.
Chang, W.-J. (2020). Experiential marketing, Brand Image and brand loyalty: A case study of starbucks. British Food Journal, 123(1), 209–223. https://doi.org/10.1108/bfj-01-2020-0014
George, J. A. (2020, October 22). Photo by June andrei george on unsplash. Beautiful Free Images & Pictures. Retrieved February 26, 2022, from https://unsplash.com/photos/1SL5Rj0xzsU