Starbucks harnesses digital

22 March 2013
SEATTLE: The number of people visiting the web and mobile sites run by Starbucks puts the coffee chain into the category of a media company, its chief digital officer has claimed.

Speaking at the shareholders' annual meeting, Adam Brotman compared the 35m unique monthly visitors to Starbucks' sites with the combined traffic of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times at 39m.

"We have traffic and scale on our own websites that make us our own media company, to build, connect and engage and tell our stories with our customers," he said.

Over the last five years, he added, Starbucks has "been able to harness and leverage what's been happening in our stores in the digital world" to the point where the connections in the latter rival the former.

"No other consumer brand retailer in the world has both [sic] the size, scale, combination and integration of what we are doing in digital," he declared.

And he was excited about the possibilities of social media. The brand has 54m global Facebook fans, but he argued that by taking all the friends of these fans the brand could reach 1bn people through one degree of separation, or "94% of everyone on Facebook".

He also stated that Starbucks was one of the most followed brands on Twitter, but more importantly, was one of the most talked about brands on Twitter: "Literally tens of thousands of times a day, people are talking about Starbucks. Meet me at Starbucks. I'm checking in at Starbucks. I need my Starbucks."

The company is further engaging consumers through a mobile app and its loyalty program. Brotman revealed the app has 10m active users and was being downloaded at the rate of 100,000 every week.

He was also upbeat on the loyalty program which he expected to double in terms of active users during the current fiscal year to 9m.

Another "simply incredible" aspect of the company's digital business that he highlighted was the fact that 30% of in-store purchases in the US are carried out using a pre-paid Starbucks Card.

Nor is this simply a US trend: comparable figures for Canada were 32% and for Korea 27%. And in China 35% of in-store sales were paid for using My Starbucks Rewards.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff
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