Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Starbucks Targets "Millenial" Consumers with New Frappuccinos

Starbucks has recently launched customizable frappuccinos, which they are calling “however-you-want-it frappuccinos.” The Starbucks Frappucino Facebook page announced the coming of these new drinks on March 17 with a status update and a link to an article from The Wall Street Journal. The announcement generated a buzz among the fans of the blended drinks, receiving over 1,700 “likes” and over 260 comments.

The goals of the launch were to boost Starbucks’ iced-drink sales and to expand their customer base. With warmer weather approaching, Starbucks hoped an increase in iced-drink purchases would offset the drop in hot-drink sales. The concept of custom-made drinks was also expected to appeal to Millenial consumers: those aged 18-24 who thrive on customizable technologies. The inability of customers to customize their frappuccinos may even explain some of the recent drop in frappuccino sales.

To kick off the launch, Starbucks held a “Frappuccino Happy Hour” from 3-5 p.m. on May 7-May 16. During the “Happy Hour,” customers could purchase the new customizable frappuccinos for half-price. The promotion was advertised with a Facebook event, which gained over 237,000 confirmed guests.

Starbucks advertised their new frappuccinos with TV and print ads, but I learned about the new drinks and the “Happy Hour” promotion through their Facebook event. I also happen to fall into their target demographic for the campaign, and I did make a trip to my local Starbucks this past weekend to take advantage of the half-priced drinks.

My experience as a consumer of the frappuccino campaign points away from traditional forms of advertising and toward social media. Do you think companies targeting Millenial consumers should cut back on traditional forms of advertising and focus on reaching out through social media?

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