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Starbucks: Take a Lesson From Mr. Mom
By: Jeff Louis
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During these trying economic times, I would just like to say, "Thank Heaven for Starbucks." Arguably one of the most expensive cups of coffee currently available on your local street corner, Starbucks has stepped up to the plate and is now offering all of their delectable products at half price! (No, not really.)

No, what the Seattle-based coffee giant is planning to do is launch an advertising campaign to convince consumers that their products are not as expensive as we think they are...their coffee is not a luxury, but just a plain 'ol cup of Joe.

I definitely missed that day in class. The day that listed the number of companies that changed nothing about their business model, but successfully re-branded their products. The day that a company, once touted as a luxury, trendy, "go to" brand actually tried to reverse this identity by stating, "We are nothing special. There is nothing extraordinary about what we do. And, contrary to what you may think, our products are not expensive." Trust us.

And, maybe Starbucks is right. Maybe they are getting a bad rap as being an over-priced luxury. The WSJOnline reported that, "...according to a December survey of coffee shops in Chicago by a stock analyst for William Blair & Co., some sizes and varieties of Starbucks were less expensive than Dunkin' Donuts coffee when adjusted for size differences." (Source: WSJ Online)

Which raises so many questions, such as; "Why is Starbucks comparing themselves to Dunkin' Donuts?" But, that is another topic. The truth of the matter is that this will be an extremely complicated reverse branding effort, and possibly a brand-killing error. Rather than defending the hard-won Starbucks brand position and capitalizing on the "brand experience" embodied by Starbucks, they have decided to attack positions firmly held by competitors, namely Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds.

If you ever saw the movie Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton, you may remember the scene where Keaton's movie wife, Teri Garr, is in an ad agency meeting with their top client, a canned tuna account. The meeting, oddly enough, was to determine the best strategy to use for a premium brand during a recession. Teri Garr's brilliant strategy was to maintain positioning while throwing consumers an incentive. The end result: A campaign that did not compromise the brand and offered lower prices during "these trying times." In essence: "Still the best tuna best available, we understand our consumer's problems and therfore are lowering our prices." Sounds like a winner to me.

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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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