Coffee Wars Continue

May 4, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

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You are going to have to be a hermit this week in order to miss the large scale marketing campaigns by Starbucks and McDonald's. The fast-food king will be taking on the coffee king to win consumer's tastebuds.

Earlier this year, Starbucks introduced a cheaper instant version of their gourmet coffee to appeal to cost conscious consumers. The chain has also initiated several in store campaigns with Pikes Peak and emphasizing the "coffee house" feel of the interior. Starbucks has valiantly worked to maintain the top level position as coffee king while consumer shopping habits and attitudes have jumped all over. This week's >campaign is geared to remind consumers that Starbucks brand is the premier choice.

McDonald's has slowly rolled out the McCafe starting this earlier this year. This week starts the major marketing campaign that has even >AdAge impressed. McDonald's is using demographic and shopper behavior science behind their campaigns. Some of the ads where developed with Hispanic and African-American preferences as the focus. Overall, the campaign will be using radio, TV, print, and internet to saturate the market just before summer kicks off and icy drinks are popular. McDonald's understands it will have to prove the quality of their coffee to win over leery customers.

What's the customer say?
The marketing campaigns may get consumer's attention, but the deciding factor will be the customer's experience. Both McDonald's and Starbucks will need ensure customer satisfaction is extended beyond the flavor of their coffee.

McDonald's will need to focus customer experience on the entire ordering process. As the fast food king, there is plenty of room for errors to occur when a minivan full of soccer kids order and the mom decides to try a McCafe coffee. One mishap, can ruin the entire customer experience and negate the efforts of their marketing campaign.

Starbucks will need to look beyond being the established coffee specialty house. In-store promotions to highlight other menu items such as pastries or teas could help extend the brand beyond the coffee. Starbucks strong point will be consumers searching for the "coffee house" experience not just caffeine. This is one niche Starbucks should make the effort to ensure experiences exceed expectations.

There's no better time to rev up employees to provide the best service, ensure quality control, and maintain a positive attitude then during a mass marketing campaign. What the customer's experience will be the deciding factor.

Topics: Customer Experience

Written by: Nanette Brown

Executive Vice President and General Manager, Nanette continues to instill her passion for excellence across the organization, guiding the measurement, management and improvement of our clients’ customer experience.


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