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Coffee Truck Beats Starbucks for CRM

A Starbucks barista.

Starbucks barista (image via Wikipedia)


No doubt you heard, read, or experienced the story of the new Starbucks logo.

Still, did you experience the real branding backstory? That’s one straight out of the MBA textbooks — you know about the 4Ps. Specifically, price.

If you did happen to stand in line and get the same cup with the new logo, you’ll know what I mean about Starbucks and CRM. Frankly, it was absent. (Don’t worry there’s an independent coffee vendor in the wings who’ll tell his story.)

The new logo was all over the news. Throughout my city, the logos were still the same. I que’ed and placed my same order and received the same product: grande breakfast tea. The clerk brewed my tea, rang up the order, and cheerily announced the price: 10% more than the week prior. That was BIG news to me, I queried, “Is that a mistake; I ordered one bag, not two?” That adds up to 20% more than two years ago. Same process.

No, it’s not a mistake. The price is now $2.65. May I help the next guest?
— Starbucks barista

I took my tea and found a spot in the half newly-designed seating area. I didn’t stay as long.

As I was leaving, I thought, warmly, of my local coffee truck vendor. His only brand is a sign above his window that cheerily says,

Good Morning, Alex!

He always knows my order, by the time I reach the window of his truck, he’s got my tea brewing—just as hot as Starbucks. One difference, however. Last visit, he noted:

I just wanted to let you know that I have to raise prices starting next week.

— “Alex”

So, for all the big-enterprise, experiental branding savvy, Starbucks just got beat on CRM and CMR. My local street coffee truck vendor knows CMR in a way that wins my loyalty.

Here’s a flickr gallery of other savvy street vendors  who “get” cmr and lots of brand love from their community.

What’s your experience of street-smart CRM?

Have you forged a loyal relationship with a vendor or store owner that has no apparent brand platform? Please post your comments here, bookmark, or share with a friend.

  1. 01/26/2011 2:14 pm

    Great story. Look, also, at what it is teaching our kids. The ones who work at Starbucks. They will have no concept of CRM and no good business experience to draw from. They’ll only get it if they read your blog.

  2. 01/26/2011 2:36 pm


    The marketer in me knows it’s not the barista’s fault — entirely. Starbucks (apparently) had no word-of-mouth or social media in place to address the issue. That tarnishes the brand, especially one that lives and breathes “experience” and “loyalty.”

    Meanwhile, “Alex” knows customers, convenience and location are the backbone of his business. He goes the extra mile to put on a smile for his customers. That’s why so many return with a smile.

    P.S. Great blog by the way!


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