Chris Reed
Aug 6, 2013

Starbucks feeds Singaporean's desire for freebies to create engagement

If you want to engage a Singaporean customer give away a freebie! That is an unchallenged fundamental in promotional marketing in Singapore and Starbucks knows how to do this better than most.

Starbucks feeds Singaporean's desire for freebies to create engagement

I was happily having a meeting in a Starbucks at 2pm one day recently, nothing unusual. Then I noticed that hardly anyone in the outlet was actually drinking…..suddenly at 3pm, mayhem! Not only did everyone get up from their empty tables to start queuing but dozens of other people pounced on the venue like some flash mob.

What had been a quiet meeting turned into both of us shouting to be heard! It was like some hidden signal and suddenly every Singaporean (sorry but there were only Singaporeans in the queue…not a foreigner to be found…) arrived at exactly 3pm. I should have known after the McDonalds Hello Kitty and Despicable Me debacles where riots were caused due to the brand running out of freebies that this invasion would be caused by a similar mechanic.

Starbucks were launching their Dark and White Pudding Frappuccino’s with a happy hour (well 4 hours) 2:1 promotion. People were queuing for 20-30 minutes and didn’t think this was odd at 3pm in the afternoon having presumably already taken their lunch breaks…..were they all at “meetings”?

It was so successful that I actually saw other Starbucks in the city had sold out of these beverages!

While this promotion shows the power of the brand of Starbucks (average coffee their still costs several times that of a food court or hawker centre) it also shows that people are willing to change their day’s schedules and queue if the quality of the product promotion is powerful enough. It wasn’t as if people were by themselves they were all in groups! Entire departments had clearly decided to have meetings in a queue in Starbucks at the same time!

Not sure if this helps Singapore in the productivity stakes but it does show that presumably with this much sugar and caffeine in one of these drinks that the customers would have been buzzing when they eventually went back to their offices ready for the rest of the afternoon’s work! Either that or they would need a lie down from the “pudding” coffee richness!

This is not the first time that Starbucks have done this and judging by the amount of engagement on social media and engagement in store and ability to drive word of mouth, especially through their social media channels, it won’t be the last.

Previously they ran 2:1 Happy Hours with products like Mocha Cookie Crumble and Caramel Ribbon Crunch. They clearly know that very sugary and sweet caffeine filled drinks is the way to a Singaporean heart!

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