Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Community News Network

May 5, 2014

The secrets behind Starbucks' secret menu

Over the weekend, thanks to my 11-year-old daughter, I discovered some of the real secrets of the Starbucks "secret menu." And I learned something new about the power of peer-to-peer marketing, customization and consumer awareness - and how Starbucks is responding to and taking advantage of all of that.

It all started a few weeks ago when my daughter asked to go to Starbucks for a cotton candy Frappuccino. "A what?" I asked. She replied that it was one of the "great drinks" that her school friends had discovered recently at Starbucks. She said they couldn't stop talking about the drink, in person and on social media.

What a great marketing move on the part of Starbucks! Having already expanded their offerings for adults to food and other items, they're now targeting my daughter's generation. Since our kids need to be accompanied to the store by an adult, Starbucks also created the opportunity to sell even more to the parents and grandparents of those same kids.

As we stood in line at Starbucks, I surveyed various menus posted on the wall. There was absolutely no mention of a cotton candy Frappuccino. I couldn't find it on a single menu.

"Are you sure?" I asked my daughter.

"You'll see," she responded, confidently stepping up to order.

Sure enough, the Starbucks employees knew exactly what she was talking about. They just asked her what size she wanted. I was still trying to figure out why Starbucks wasn't even advertising the drink.

It turns out that the drink came from the "secret menu." You see, Starbucks has gone well beyond allowing people to build custom orders around its traditional coffee drinks.

Last weekend, before my daughter and I left home, she had already searched for "Starbucks secret menu" on the computer and narrowed her choices to a handful of drinks (all of which involved various ingredients from Starbucks' menu for adult drinks).

By the time we reached the store, my daughter had decided on a "Rolo Frap," but neither the Starbucks' employee taking her order nor the barista had heard of the drink. Rather than disappoint my daughter, they asked for the recipe to make it and we grabbed it online (using the free and easy-to-access Starbucks Wi-Fi, of course).

Starbucks prepared and priced a drink that they had never heard of before and my daughter was delighted - so much so that she took a picture of the drink and posted it on her Instagram before she even tasted it.

Howard Schultz, the company's CEO, spoke about the secret menu during a television interview last week. He said it was his customers who drove the change, and it allowed Starbucks to better adapt its offerings to different cultures worldwide. Along the way, Starbucks empowers its customers, deepens their brand loyalty and broadens its markets.

It's a brilliant marketing move on the part of Starbucks, and I suspect it's only a matter of time until its secret menu is no longer so secret.

Just think of how many other companies are sitting on "secret menus" that they aren't exploiting. If they tried, they'd discover the payoff of improving how they communicate with their customers so they can authentically enable and empower them. Before companies rush to do that, however, they have to be confident about how well they can truly customize and capitalize on what they're selling - and they have little room for error.

 

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller