How Starbucks Is Getting South Africans To Love Them - And How You Can Do The Same

Learn from the coffee brand's 'give, give, take' strategy


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Starbucks' brand building and advertising is unlike any other brand.

Image Credit: Instagram/Starbucks

Since launching in South Africa in 2016, Starbucks Coffee, one of the world's biggest specialty coffee roasters, is no longer content to only offer luxury coffees and beverages, they are now after the hearts and loyalty of South Africans.

Since their launch, they have gained the attention of Johannesburg's coffee lovers, resulting in massive queues of people eager to get the Starbucks experience.

Starbucks' management group Taste Holdings CEO, Carlo Gonzaga, in an interview with Moneyweb six months after their launch, said their branches were still experiencing massive demand, with the Mall of Africa store going through nearly a tonne of ice used in their signature Frappuchinos. 

The company is not only expanding (they announced that they would be launching in Cape Town and Durban by the end of 2017), but they are also finding ways to build a community around their brand as part of their marketing strategy.

They are doing this, not only through their social media channels, but also by offering their customers more than coffee in the form of music and speaker events and by going green. The result is they are creating advocates for their brand who want support them because they believe the brand identifies with their lifestyles and values. 

Want to achieve similar results? Here are 3 ways Starbucks is cultivating and nurturing a strong community. 

1. Build, Grow, Empower

In 2016, Starbucks launched a series of inspirational speaker sessions at their Mall of Africa, Rosebank and Menlyn branches. The talks are presented by Tebello 'Tibz' Motsoane, founder of Showlove, a hip-hop events company. 

Starbucks customers are invited to come listen to South African professionals, creators and entrepreneurs. Topics covered include branding and entrepreneurship. 

So far they have hosted the likes of Farah Fortune, director of African Star Communications and Event Management and fashion designer Siya Beyile, founder of The Threaded Man.

The coffee brand is cleverly positioning themselves as more than just a place for young ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs to chill and have a cup of coffee, but as a place they can also go to network, learn and get empowered.

2. Give The People What They Want
Starbucks South Africa is following in the footsteps of their US counterparts in other ways. This time it's with music. Starbucks hosts 'Starbucks Sessions', a showcase of local musical talent held at their stores, typically on a Sunday. 

Musical acts that have performed as part of this initiative include rock group Desmond and the Tutus, indie artist Johnny Cradle and indie folk band Sutherland.

Through this initiative Starbucks is not only showing support for local musical talent by giving them a platform to showcase their music, but also connecting to their community through one of the best ways out there - music. 

3. Have A Cause!
Research by Nielsen shows the youth market continues to lean towards supporting brands that value environmental and social responsibility. The brand is playing to this. After introducing their espresso capsules range that allows customers to create their own Starbucks experience at home, to encourage their customers to recycle the plastic capsules, Starbucks offers them 10 'stars' or points on their Starbucks Rewards Loyalty programmes for every 20 empty capsules returned to the store. The points can be used for rewards like free beverages and member-only invites to events, among others perks.

The used capsules are then distributed to one of Waste Plan’s partners to be used in production of other products.

Through this initiative the coffee brand is demonstrating that they care about what their customers care about - the environment and are not only looking at the bottom line. What's more, they are rewarding their customers for contributing to the cause, and giving them more reasons to go green.

Starbucks has also implemented their social responsibility initiative, the Changing Lanes Programme, a job-readiness training programme that helps to bridge the gap between unemployed youth and work opportunities. 

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