A Latte Success: How Starbucks Brews Customer Loyalty

The coffee industry is not immune to change. But even with rapid change spurred by an evolving artisanal coffee market and a 40 percent rise in the wholesale price of coffee beans, Starbucks continues to grow. To what does it owe its staying power?

The company has been adept at accurately identifying and investing in revenue drivers and keeping hold of its customer base. Offering Wi-Fi since 2002, it was an early technology leader and continues to use technology and social media to engage customers and promote loyalty.

The company’s mobile app has brought great success in building that loyalty. It rewards customers for purchases with free refreshments, offers free apps from partners, lets customers send digital Starbucks gift cards and, perhaps most importantly, provides the ability to place an order and pay from a mobile device — customers who use the function can order refreshments remotely and skip lines when picking them up. By the end of 2015, more than 20 percent of customers were paying via mobile, and those customers were making more frequent and larger purchases.

Read more about how Starbucks stays on top in Meghan R. Murray’s article “Tech-Savvy Starbucks Stays on Top of Artisanal Wave,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.

About the Faculty

Meghan R. Murray

The president and founder of Stynson LLC, an Internet marketing and business strategy consulting firm, Murray teaches the “Digital Marketing” and “Management Communication” courses in Darden’s MBA program. Her expertise extends to interactive media, website design, social media and software product development. At Stynson, she consults clients in all phases... Learn More