What Happened: The more you look at Starbucks these days, the more it’s looking like a technology company and not just a purveyor of coffee and sweet drinks. Not only has its app for mobile payments led the pack of smartphone payment apps in 2012, seizing the vast majority of the $500 million worth of in-store transactions in the U.S., it also this year began experimenting with wireless phone charging technology in its retail locations. Given that for many its Internet café atmosphere already represents their makeshift office, the allure of that technology is evident. In Seeking Alpha, the case was made recently that the Seattle-based company should emphasize technology and look to expand its mobile app, which already accounts for 10 percent of its sales. Along with international expansion and better food offerings, the “I’m much more than a place to get coffee” kind of thinking is sure to increase it revenues.
What This Means for Brands: Starbucks’ success should be inspiration for other brands to see themselves as much more than just their products. Starbucks seems to ask, “What role do I play in my customers’ lives?” as opposed to “What can I sell my customers?” Other fast-food purveyors, or even perhaps retail pharmacy chains, where customers stop frequently to make small but vital purchases, could easily consider mobile payment apps. But the bigger takeaway is borrowing from Simon Sinek to ask, ‘Why do we exist as a brand?”—finding your mission to build new momentum.
Contributing to TRENDING this week are Lucy Arnold, Jenna Carter, Lisa Helfer, MaryFrances Hicks and Abby Ray. Edited by Pat Wechsler.