Starbucks goes mobile in China

23 December 2011

BEIJING: Starbucks, the coffee house chain, is leveraging mobile tools such as geo-location services and apps as it seeks to engage young, affluent consumers in China.

The US multinational has partnered with Guohe Ad to run an advertising campaign across applications provided by Weico, the social media platform, Business Value, the magazine, and Days Matter, a calendar and diary app.

In selecting these channels, the aim was to attract youthful, comparatively high-earning, office workers in three different markets: Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zheijing.

More specifically, the ads promoted a special offer from Starbucks to reward customers "checking in" at one of 200 stores with a larger size of drink.

Weico was regarded as the best means to reach the target audience because it is the most popular third-party application featured on Sina Weibo, the microblog.

Currently, Sina Weibo, a property that is largely similar to Twitter, boasts over 3m registered members and roughly 500,000 active users per day.

From 18-20 December, Starbucks' efforts generated 40,000 daily impressions, and yielded a clickthrough rate of 1.4%, a figure bettering typical industry benchmarks.

While approximately 10% of China's 900m mobile subscribers now use 3G networks, this total is expected to rise rapidly over the months to come, a trend Starbucks hopes to exploit.

"It is the first time for Starbucks to tap mobile advertising in China and it is really an impressive campaign," said Lu Huang, marketing director, Starbucks Coffee Shanghai.

More broadly, the goal is to take Starbucks into what the company refers to as the "fourth place", a digital representation of its role as the "third place" for consumers after home and work.

"The ad targeting and integration of social media efficiently helped Starbucks to convert mobile users into our real customers," said Lu.

"It also enabled Starbucks to celebrate Christmas with customers in the online and offline world, and communicate the idea of Starbucks fourth place experiences."

Data sourced from MarketWatch; additional content by Warc staff