From beloved comic strips PEANUTS to electronics giant Samsung, Starbucks has continuously kept the interest and fascination of its customers with limited edition collaborations and product drops. These collections have kept people coming back for more no matter how many tumblers they already own from the brand.
Recently, the coffee chain released its highly anticipated ‘Turn Up Your Summer’ collaboration featuring BLACKPINK. The collection, in a typical Starbucks fashion, included a bevy of offerings that embody the group’s dynamic energy and playful demeanor at select Starbucks stores across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
For the collaboration, Starbucks specially crafted a pink Frappuccino drink called the BLACKPINK Strawberry Choco Cream Frappuccino Blended Beverage. It also had stylish drinkware and lifestyle accessories with funky graffiti motifs and doodle prints that feature a contrasting pink and black colour palette. All of which were very quickly swept off the shelves by fans.
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Whether it be a signature beverage or specially designed merchandise, how does Starbucks continue to come up with eye-catching collaborations that keep fans coming back and adding to their ever-growing collections? The answer, it would seem lies in fostering a human connection and understanding the consumer, according to Starbucks’s Asia Pacific partnerships director, Lisa Leung in an exclusive interview with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
“Starbucks is uniquely in the business of human connection. Many are coming to us for a connection with others as the everyday ritual of coffee is a powerful way to bring that to life,” she added.
With the BLACKPINK collaboration, Leung pointed out that the campaign video that aimed to capture the genuine reactions of each member of BLACKPINK trying their specially created Frappuccino and sharing their favourites from the collection, was the cornerstone of the campaign due to its ability to connect with fans.
To Starbucks, this collaboration with BLACKPINK was an opportunity to use its brand relevance and the scale of its platform that spans online and offline experiences across markets to foster human connections. It also wanted to reach new audiences and deepen connections with fans of Starbucks and BLACKPINK (BLINKs).
In order for Starbucks to foster a human connection, it stressed the importance of the authenticity of a collaboration which they achieved through looking toward their consumers for inspiration when the company assesses each collaboration.
Leung said of the foundation of an authentic collaboration:
It’s in having shared values and vision, mutual respect and a genuine passion for connecting with consumers to uplift the human spirit.
She added that in assessing collaborations, it also looks towards its consumers for inspiration. “We continually deepen our understanding of customers’ evolving lifestyles and stay on top of the latest trends in popular culture. This helps us deliver a genuinely exciting offering that resonates and delights consumers, while ensuring we foster a meaningful brand connection,” she said.
A tailored approach for each campaign
However, as most coffee fans would know, Starbucks is well known for its revolving number of collaborations and collections that never seem to end. When asked how Starbucks builds anticipation for each campaign to give them each ample time to shine and stand out from other collaborations, Leung highlighted that there is no one size fits all approach.
“Every collaboration is unique and entails a tailored approach that intersects consumer understanding and cultural insights,” she explained. “In the case of ‘Turn Up Your Summer’ campaign, we sought to leverage the energy and passion of BLACKPINK’s fans to drive hype and anticipation.”
To drive hype and anticipation for the ‘Turn Up Your Summer’ campaign, Starbucks first released three social teaser posts designed in bold black and pink colors that alluded to the collaboration ahead of the sales period to get people talking about the limited-edition items.
Developed with creative agency TBWA, the multi-channel campaign was designed to capture attention through consistent social content activation and immersive experiences such as in-store activations to ensure top-of-mind awareness.
To do this, select Starbucks stores across the nine markets were transformed into immersive experiences inspired by BLACKPINK’s latest album Born Pink. This included BLACKPINK music that was streamed in-store and interiors reminiscent of their bold elegance and confidence, bringing to life a new Starbucks Experience which fans can be truly excited about
Interestingly, Starbucks also looks to its consumer’s fear of missing out (FOMO) to drive engagement for its collaborations, a phrase that refers to a feeling or perception of envy when an individual feels that others are having more fun or having a better experience.
To tap into this feeling, the brand leveraged its Starbucks Rewards programme to ignite anticipation through exclusive perks that include early access to the BLACKPINK-inspired Frappuccino and merchandise through mobile orders. This is a common tactic that is seen throughout the year with new drink launches and collaborations.
“The aim is to generate word of mouth for our beverage and merchandise collection.” Leung added before noting that the collaboration with BLACKPINK is an opportunity to tap the strength, relevance and scale of its Starbucks Experience to foster that human connection and reach new audiences.
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