Starbucks: The 4Ps of Success

November 21, 2019 - Reading Time: 5 minutes

Starbucks is a brand that needs no introduction. One of the biggest coffee shop chains in the world, Starbucks is a globally recognised brand valued at around US$9.6 billion.

Its success is no accident; Starbucks has a solid marketing strategy that nails all 4 Ps of the marketing mix: product, price, promotion and place. Let’s take a look at how these 4 Ps contribute to Starbucks’ success.

1. Product

You need a strong understanding of your product before you can convince someone else to buy it, and we don’t just mean knowing how your product works. You need to understand your product in relation to competing products and consumer needs. What differentiates your product from your competitors’? How does it benefit the consumer? Knowing what makes your product unique will boost the effectiveness of your sales pitch.

Take a look at Starbucks.

Starbucks has positioned itself as the go-to place for premium coffee. In 2014, the company rolled out a campaign to remind customers of its promise to deliver high-quality cups of Joe.

“Our Barista Promise” reaffirmed the company’s commitment to making coffee the way customers like them, and Starbucks delivers on that promise. Customers can request for customised drinks, as long as they provide the baristas with the recipe.

Besides beverages, Starbucks is also known for its branded merchandise. It’s probably the only coffee chain with such an extensive range of lifestyle products.

Via Starbucks Singapore

Customers can look forward to seasonally-themed products every year. Starbucks traditionally releases new tumbler and mug designs for occasions like Christmas and Halloween.

Via Starbucks Singapore

Via Starbucks Singapore

Starbucks also regularly collaborates with local and international brands in their merchandising.

Collaboration with alice + olivia

Via Starbucks Singapore

Collaboration with The Paper Bunny

Via Starbucks Singapore

Selling beautiful lifestyle products is one way Starbucks differentiates itself from other coffee chains. In fact, they are almost as well-known for their merchandise as they are for their coffee.

2. Price

Pricing is a delicate matter. Offering products at premium prices has its advantages as consumers tend to associate more expensive products with better quality. However, if you are going to charge high prices, you need to ensure that your product lives up to expectations. This is where marketing and branding come in.

Starbucks’ marketing and branding strategies work to justify the premium prices they charge. Their brand strategy contains two main focal points: customer experience and quality.

Starbucks has over 28,000 stores across the world and it is committed to maintaining the same level of customer experience across its stores. Every Starbucks interior is built to be cosy, perfect for relaxing with a cup of Joe.

Via Starbucks Singapore

By offering a unique, consistent “Starbucks experience”, Starbucks has managed to boost the perceived value of its brand. Therefore, customers are willing to pay more for a cup of Starbucks coffee.

Another reason Starbucks is able to charge premium prices is that it has cultivated a favourable image for itself as a provider of ethically-sourced, high-quality coffee. As consumers become more socially conscious, businesses that align themselves with a cause are gaining an edge over those that don’t. In 2015, Nielson’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report showed that 66% of global consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Starbucks’ environmentally-friendly brand image has helped it command higher prices.

3. Place

Starbucks’ omnipresence plays an important role in its success. You can find a Starbucks in almost every mall in Singapore, whether it’s located in a major shopping district or in the heartlands. It’s not just Singapore; Starbucks is as global as a brand can get, with more than 28,000 outlets in more than 70 countries. This ubiquity allows customers to access the brand almost anywhere. Need your coffee fix? Starbucks is right around the corner.

Besides brick-and-mortar stores, Starbucks has also been expanding into the online sphere. The brand’s mobile app combines e-commerce and e-payment functions. Customers can use their mobile phones to pay, reload their Starbucks card and track rewards. They can even use the app to place orders and make payment before picking up their orders at the store. This is perfect for time-strapped customers and people who hate waiting in line.

Like Starbucks, businesses should strive to make their products accessible and convenient to acquire. A troublesome buying process is the quickest way to lose a customer.

4. Promotion

Promote your product through advertisements, special offers and public relations. Tap into both offline and online channels.

Besides paid advertisements like TV commercials and print ads, Starbucks also actively promotes its products on social media, like Facebook and Instagram.


Keep your cards within easy reach, with these stylish accessories. Perfect for gifting or to keep.Yours for $15 each….

Posted by Starbucks Singapore on Saturday, 9 November 2019


They also offer regular 1-for-1 promotions and find creative ways to promote the offer. Here’s a video they did in conjunction with Halloween:


1-for-1 Halloween Special

A faulty elevator. A deserted hallway. A 1-for-1 treat for the brave. Watch to the end of the video to unlock your treat. Tag a friend you'd like to #SharetheScare with.Only valid during the listed dates and times, on all Venti-sized handcrafted beverages. T&Cs apply. #HalloweenSpecial

Posted by Starbucks Singapore on Sunday, 21 October 2018


You can also promote your products through GIFs and static visuals. Make them as eye-catching as Starbucks’ visual content.


One for you, one to share

Enjoy a 1-for-1 Venti treat from 27-31 Aug, 3-5pm. Here's how: spot our fruity hats for our fruitilicious drinks. Screen grab it and flash it in stores to unlock your treat. Valid on all Venti-sized handcrafted beverages. T&Cs apply.

Posted by Starbucks Singapore on Thursday, 23 August 2018



View this post on Instagram


Add fun splashes of color to your daily brew. ☀️ Click link in bio @starbuckssg to see full collection.

A post shared by Starbucks Singapore (@starbuckssg) on

Find out where your target consumers are and use those channels to promote your products. You want to be where they are.

A good marketing strategy is like a good cup of coffee – it generates buzz. Use these 4 Ps to guide you as you design your own marketing mix. Remember to make it holistic and customer-centric, just like Starbucks.


Death Stranding: Lessons from Video Game Marketing

November 8, 2019 - Reading Time: 4 minutes

Death Stranding, one of the most highly-anticipated video games of the year, was just released. Whether you’re an avid gamer or a marketer with other hobbies, there is much to learn from the marketing team behind the game.

We took a closer look at some of their marketing activities; here are some takeaways.

A Good Trailer Arouses Curiosity

Video game trailers are amazing and the trailers for Death Stranding are no exception. Cinematic and jaw-droppingly beautiful, these trailers are made to get audiences interested and invested (both emotionally and financially).

They also tend to be pretty cryptic, story-wise, as one would expect. Death Stranding, however, took this to a whole new level. In fact, its premise is so arcane, it became a running joke in the comments section.

You can watch two of the trailers below and see if you can decipher what the game is about.

What’s the lesson here?

A good trailer doesn’t reveal all. In fact, the less it reveals, the more interest it garners. We are not advocating for all trailers to be as disorienting as Death Stranding’s. (There’s a reason Death Stranding is able to get away with confusing its audience this much; we will explore this later.) Our point is this: to pique interest, there has to be an element of mystery. Brands need to keep their audience hooked and wanting to find out more. A trailer that arouses curiosity makes a great hook.

Stories Sell

The story behind Death Stranding remains a key feature in almost all of its trailers. Stories are powerful marketing tools that have been an important part of video game marketing for a long time. A compelling story gets people interested. A well-told story creates hype. That is why game developers invest a good deal in creating cinematic trailers that solely focus on introducing players to the game’s lore and premise. Gameplay is often explored in separate trailers. You can see this strategy employed by the team behind Death Stranding as well as other game developers.

Games with solid storytelling, such as The Last of Us, Heavy Rain and the Uncharted series, have gained both critical and commercial success. Stories tap into emotions and emotion is the basis upon which most buying decisions are made. The functionality of your product is critical to the success of your product but if you have a great story attached, half the battle is already won.

The Power of Influencers

Despite being a video game, Death Stranding has enough star power to rival an Avengers film.

It will feature The Walking Dead actor, Norman Reedus, as the protagonist. Guillermo del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen and Léa Seydoux are also part of the main cast of characters. Players can also expect to run into minor characters played by celebrities like Conan O’Brien and Edgar Wright.

Even Hideo Kojima, the creator of the game himself, is a big reason why there’s so much hype surrounding the game. Known as the brains behind the highly successful and influential Metal Gear Solid franchise, Kojima has been labelled an auteur of video games and listed as one of the top video game creators of all time. With Kojima’s influence, coupled with an impressive celebrity lineup, it is no wonder Death Stranding gained so much attention and interest despite its bewildering trailers.

Name recognition is important in marketing. Use influencers to raise awareness of your brand or product. It may be an old tactic but it’s one that still works, even when it comes to selling video games.

Be on Different Mediums

Death Stranding’s marketing team isn’t content to just upload trailers on YouTube. The game was also promoted at major gaming events like the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and the Tokyo Game Show.

Kojima Productions also recently kicked off a global launch tour called the “World Strand Tour”, which Hideo Kojima himself will attend. Much like how the game is about connecting people, the aim of the tour is for Kojima to reach out to fans from all over the world.

Apart from the global tour, Kojima Productions also tapped into television and Spotify to promote the game. Kojima was featured on Conan, a late-night talk show hosted by Conan O’Brien, where he gave the host a tour of his office. The clip aired on television and is also available to watch on YouTube.

To reach out to young music lovers, the team also released a Spotify playlist that includes “tracks from the soundtrack, trailers and other songs inspired by the game”. There’s nothing like great music to get you hyped and to give you a sense of what the game is like.

With the vast number of marketing platforms out there, the days of sticking to one form of media are long gone.  Be where your audience is. That includes every platform they are on – online or offline.

The video game industry is expected to become a $300 billion industry by 2025. With mobile gaming, VR gaming and cloud gaming gaining traction, game developers are going to need to get creative to grab a piece of the pie. As marketers, we should always be on the lookout for innovative marketing tactics and campaigns, regardless of which industry they emerge from.

The video game industry, however, is a good place to start.