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Starbucks has achieved significant growth. And because of their success, their brand is in danger of becoming a commodity brand in the category they created.
The warning signs were there, as anyone with 20/20 hindsight can see, including a “watering down of the Starbucks experience” where speed and efficiency were emphasized over romance and theater, stores smelled like breakfast sandwiches instead of coffee, and a cookie cutter store design became ubiquitous.
Recently reinstalled CEO Howard Shultz expressed his concerns in a recent memo. “Over the past ten years, in order to achieve the growth, development, and scale necessary to go from less than 1,000 stores to 13,000 stores and beyond, we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have lead [sic] to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand.”
Schultz’s concerns are well-founded; as brands become commoditized, price elasticity sets in, the death knell for a premium brand.
So, how can you keep your brand from falling into the commoditization trap? Here are six tips to help marketers avoid Starbuck’s predicament:
-A shift from brand building advertising to promotional programs
-A shift from informational-oriented advertising to entertainment oriented advertising.
-A shift from communications which communicate distinctive positioning strategy to communications which focus on brand essence or imagery.
Avoiding the brand commoditization trap isn't easy. But you wouldn't want an easy job, would you?