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Starbucks builds brand with millennials via closely aligned mobile platforms

Starbucks is targeting millennials who may be looking for a quick pick-me-up during the busy holiday season with brand integrations on Snapchat and popular email newsletter publication theSkimm. 

The coffee house chain sees a lot of business from shoppers during the busy holiday season, with its popular seasonal products a favorite with millennials. Starbucks is advertising on theSkimm?s daily newsletter, sponsoring a Snapchat filter and foraying into other mobile platforms in an attempt to grab millennials' fleeting attention to maximize the potential sales from these consumers.

?I think Starbucks is doing something really smart,? said Serena Saitas, founder and director of strategy at Real. ?They continue to build their brand in highly relevant ways that feel naturally aligned with their target demographics lifestyle. 

?A Starbucks customer will start his or her day with a coffee from Starbucks, and the same goes for a person who wakes up each morning to peruse theSkimm,? she said. ?Each brand fulfills a different need but together they appeal to the same type of consume, mobile, wants to feel energized in the morning, and culturally engaged.  

?By advertising on theSkimm, Starbucks will have exposure to a mobile culture, one, I?m sure it wants to reinforce its commitment to.?

Skimming on Starbucks
TheSkimm is a daily newsletter accessed primarily through mobile, popular with millennial women readers interested in short bites of news to stay up-to-date on current events while still going about their busy schedules. Millennials are known for being constantly on the move with jam-packed schedules, and publications such as theSkimm that have the ability to make an impression are a beacon for advertisers looking to attract them. 


On November 11, readers of theSkimm saw a Starbucks-themed edition in which the publication?s logo was updated to include the silhouette of a woman holding the coffee house?s cup. The top of the newsletter also read ?brought to you by Starbucks? and encouraged readers to take advantage of a two-for-one deal. 

The first sentence of the publication always mentions ?skimmed while?? and describes an activity that appeals to millennials or coincides with a current trend or event. Yesterday?s Starbucks edition read ?Skimm?d while sipping on a Chestnut Praline Latte at Starbucks, feel the cheer, buy one holiday drink and get one free to share, you go Glenn Coco,? promoting a Starbucks item while including a pop culture reference. 

The sentence also included a link in which mobile and desktop users are able to create personalized versions of GIFs to invite friends to share in the buy-one-get-one-free deal. Content features interactive images such as an Elf in typical Claymation format, with text reading ?one for you, one for me,? including a name of user's friend. 

Snapchat users were also able to share a filter including a Starbucks holiday cup with a ribbon saying cheers. 
The campaigns are hitting during a controversial time for the beverage retailer in which a wide discussion started on social media following its decision to remove holiday-related symbols from its cups, to appeal to a wider range of customers with all beliefs. 

Starbucks and mobile
Starbucks, which put the focus on SMS for its seasonal promotions in the past, also made a big push on social media as it engaged in a marketing blitz for the return of its Pumpkin Spice Latte that includes official accounts for the drink on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr (see more). 

The retailer?s view of mobile as the future of retail, not just marketing, earned it both users? trust and the freedom to test new features, auguring well for its continuation as a dominant brand, a Mobile Marketer analysis shows (see more). 

"TheSkimm reaches a predominately female audience that is tech-savvy, connected and busy, especially during the holidays," said Lindsay Williams, vice president of media and analytics at Rokkan. "Starbucks appears to want to align with that lifestyle, to contrast a bit with their generic holiday messaging. 

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer