Why I Love Starbucks & The Unicorn Frappuccino – A Marketing Graduates’ Opinion

April 20, 2017

When it comes to coffee, Starbucks is my favorite. Not only for Instagram, but also in real life. And like any other Instagrammer out there, I’m always on the lookout for anything new that they launch. But let’s leave the perfect looking coffee & the great taste aside and talk about how Starbucks is a great marketing Case Study.

The Unicorn Frappuccino

Starbucks is already quite a popular brand and is loved by people all around the world. And since their coffees are so #InstagramPerfect , it also makes it every Social Media Influencer’s favourite brand.

But when they came out with Unicorn Frappuccino, just yesterday, they proved why they are every Instagrammers favourite brand. There is no denying that the internet is obsessed with anything Unicorn from bath bombs to cakes. And when Starbucks officially announced the Unicorn Frappuccino and we saw how pretty it looked, everyone wanted it, whether you love unicorns or not.

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino
Image Courtesy: starbucks.com
Do we care what it tastes like?
Are we a coffee fan?
Not exactly.
Do we care how unhealthy it might be?
Not at all.

We do it all for the ‘gram.

Half of us went and bought it so that we could post it on our social media & make full use of the trending hashtags. I didn’t go to Starbucks, hell yeah this coffee hasn’t even been released in Europe, but I’m taking advantage of the trending column all because we need content, views & likes. It seems shallow, but when you are blogger you can’t really be like “I don’t care about the views”.

The second half went in to see what all this about. I have personally done that so many times, not just with Starbucks but with a lot of things.

There was only a very small percentage that went in because they were actually interested in the coffee.

And this is not the first time something like this has happened. Remember the Starbucks Red Cup, every damn year.

But this is not the first Unicorn-inspired drink. There are many unicorn inspired foods and even a whole café but what makes this Starbucks drink so popular and trending?

Firstly, it is a limited edition drink available only from April 19 -23, while supplies last. And so we all go rushing in before it’s all over. We may not get to know it but this instantly gives us a feeling of FOMO, so we end up going to the nearest Starbucks after school or work to get it.

Secondly, unlike all the other unicorn inspired foods, this is not something that is available only in New York or California. They have 7049 company operated & 5292 licensed stores just in USA. That just means they are reaching way more people than any of the other cafes offering something similar.

Lastly, the price of a Unicorn Frappuccino is anywhere from $4.25 to $4.95, which not too much considering that Starbucks Frappuccino range starts from $3.75 (excluding the Iced Coffee). So it is not heavy on your pocket.

So yes, this was bound to be popular but exactly how popular is the Unicorn Frappuccino? Let’s have a look at some numbers.

#unicornfrappuccino has approx 86,000 posts on Instagram (It grew by like 2000 posts while I was writing & publishing this post).

On twitter, #unicornfrappuccino has 51,700 tweets & 33,300 retweets till now.

There are 34,000 people talking about this keyword on Facebook.

As someone who has worked in Social Media Marketing for a popular fast food brand, that is a great number.

The coffee has become so popular that it is already sold out is some places and it’s only 20th April.

While we are looking at numbers, lets also look at why The Unicorn Frappuccino was bound to be successful according to marketing concepts.

Often you will hear marketers saying that marketing is about putting the right product, at the right price, at the right place and at the right time. Let’s break this down for The Unicorn Frappuccino. It is unicorn-themed drink that looks really pretty, is not that costly, is available all throughout USA, Canada & Mexico and is launched at a time when the internet & everyone is obsessed with all things Unicorn. That just makes it a perfect recipe for success.

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino
Image Courtesy: starbucks.com

And this is when we haven’t even talked about the most important aspect of marketing i.e. Promotion. A lot of people on social media said that practically all of us are doing a free promotion for Starbucks by posting about the Unicorn Frappuccino and we shouldn’t be doing that and influencers should be paid to promote it and so on. My only question to them is, did Starbucks ask them to promote it for free? Starbucks just informed everyone that “Hey look we have a new product, you guys should try it out.”  People went in & bought the product because they wanted to. And the best part is that people talking about it are doing so while using #UnicornFrappuccino . I’m not saying they are wrong. Starbucks should have paid these people if they were running an influencer marketing campaign. But they are not.  And anyone who is a Starbucks Media Influencer has disclosed it in their posts.

To end, I just want to say you may love it or hate it but you can’t deny that Starbucks is a very popular brand & anything they do will always become viral.

Starbucks is undoubtedly the most popular coffee chain & The Unicorn Frappuccino just proves how obsessed we are with Starbucks.

P.S.: Sorry for such a long post but I felt like writing about this topic and you may disagree with me and I’m all fine with that.

    1. Thanks Evelyn. It’s so true how social media has become like the new word-of-mouth and how much profits brands make because of this.

  1. Such an interesting topic! I’m so interested in Starbucks as a brand and what makes it so viral and popular. To me, it’s not anything special and I try not to buy into their marketing, but it’s definitely an intriguing topic. Great write-up 🙂

    1. I personally feel what makes it Viral today is the combined effect of social media and the fear of missing out. A lot of people end up at Starbucks because a friend said that the coffee was nice or they wanted the red cup to show off on Instagram. Also, it has been shown so much in movies & TV Series as the go-to coffee brand for our some of our favourite characters. All of this combined together creates a curiosity in our mind & we end up trying it.

  2. I’ve seen a lot of images about this and it’s a great marketing ploy as people are buying it even though it’s not even a nice drink. I’m kind of glad it’s not in the UK otherwise so many people would be getting them x

  3. I mean if you think about it, and obviously you have, they are geniuses. Let’s give them something cafinated, sugary, limited, and unicorn themed and see if the world burns.

  4. This is crazy to me .. a product made (mostly) for the social media photos. I’m a food blogger and what it reminds me of is when I see a photo of a beautiful plate of food .. but when I look at the recipe there are so many extra things added simply to make it pretty for the photos. Not that there’s anything wrong with pretty plates of food .. but for everyday living it probably isn’t something a home cook is going to make or want to spend a lot of extra money acquiring garnishes. Great post .. and food for thought!

  5. you got the point! I’ve found also in Milan and in Italy in general a great amount of places to have coffee and a glass of wine that are successful because they are “instagram friendly”, the interiors and the food/drink looks perfect for instagram. 90% of them are not that much when it comes to quality or taste… but to have this people should come to south Italy 😉

  6. I don’t deny Starbucks marketing genius. And I have seen my fair share of unicorns lately in just about everything. So I know why people would want to jump on the bandwagon. After hearing about it I read that the shake was sour, which actually made me want to try it. But when another friend said it was Bubble Gum type flavored that completely turned me off. I may have liked bubble gum ice cream as a child but no thank you. I just know that I can’t support Starbucks because I hate their coffee. And I can’t support them because if I wasn’t real with my audience then I just couldn’t look myself in the mirror. I’d be a blogging vampire, not being able to recognize myself in the mirror and swearing my reflection wasn’t there. I won’t become that.

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