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Business Marketing

Focus Consumer – Starbucks Gets It.




The announcement

Starbucks announced it will close 7100 stores for 3 hours tonight to bring 135k employees together as a refresher of the mission- Great Coffee.

They Get It.

What I thought was most brilliant about this approach is it says several things to the majority of consumers and I imagine tomorrow will be one of the highest producing days on record for the coffee giant. This public approach (rather than hiding it) says they get it. They’ve gotten so big that maybe they were getting off course, but the company is willing to put some serious cash behind the message, demonstrating to it’s employees that it is beyond serious when it comes to the coffee experience at Starbucks. It says the same to me as a consumer and it’s a win if tomorrow my drink at Starbucks is a winner.

My Thoughts

Becoming complacant in any business today is a weakness no one can afford. Remaining the dominant player is not an easy feat when the bullseye on your back grows daily.

Real Estate

I think some of the big real estate brokerages around the nation should get together not for sales meetings and 2008 strategy sessions- how about instead coming together on behalf of the consumer experience?

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Mike Price

    February 26, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I personally think this was orchestrated as a buzz marketing campaign. It has all the earmarks of something Mark Hughes would have been the architect over and it has worked famously. Getting people to talk about your product is the currency of marketing these days. The press, social media and more have fawned all over this effort. I’m not saying it was disingenuous, far from it. But make no mistake, the retraining of the employees could have been done in a way that would not have required the stores to be closed. In order for a company the size of Starbucks to create buzz, they need to think outside the box. I have no doubt in my mind that the return on investment from closing the stores will show an astounding return. I have no doubt that this will become a text book case study that will focus more on the marketing aspect than the operational focus of what some may have seen as a risky decision.

  2. KC Investments

    February 26, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Marketing or focus? Whatever. If it’s happening at Starbucks either Benn or Jeff Brown will know about it. Jeez guys. Ever heard of a Coke?

    Oh, and tell Lani I said “Hello” and “Get Better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  3. JB

    February 27, 2008 at 2:51 am

    A Coke? A friend once worked as a young man for a soft drink company at one of their plants. He noticed two things causing me to drink coffee instead of soda.

    He had to replace his rubber boots every 90 days as they eroded to nothing through constant direct contact with the product.

    The truck mechanics there used the product as a solvent to clean up engine blocks etc.

    Oh miss? Would you please make that a Venti with room? Thanks

  4. Kris Berg

    February 27, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Mike – Don’t agree that they couldn’t have done it without closing shop for the night. As the mother of a Starbucks barista, I have been getting an earful. With the employee turnover (remember, we are talking about a younger crowd), too many of the current employees weren’t privy to the old way of doing things. They are having to not only retrain but deprogram.

    So, to make it more of a general argument, whether an company or industry is trying to move back or move ahead, it’s this “deprogamming” that is the difficulty, no? Learning something “new” is tricky, there is resistance, and sometimes a lock down is needed to truly effect change. More Brokers should try this approach. 🙂

  5. Mike Price

    February 27, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I have to admit I do not frequent Starbucks unless I am out of town and have no idea where else to grab a quick cup of Joe. I find it bitter and would rather have a cup of plain old Maxwell House.

    I have no doubt in the sincerity of the program to get the company back on track, I guess with time zones and the sheer volume of stores/employees being what they are, they could not have done this without shutting down. I still believe strongly that they recognized the spin in the effort and worked it from as many marketing angles as possible. I am not being critical of it, I’m actually quite impressed.

  6. Benn Rosales

    February 27, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Isn’t it both. If your company or organization has a pr problem in that the product (in this case coffee) is suffering and people know it- what better way to use a problem to an advantage that says “we’re solving the problem.” The intent is to shore up the product by retraining, at the same time, letting the consumer see there was an issue, and we’re willing to lose money to make it right. I call it taking a stand in a win/win. Call it spin, call it what you like, it will work because I’m a consumer of their product and I’m willing to buy into it. If you never liked it to start with, you may never buy into anything they do.

    But take the larger point. Stop with the sales meetings and start with the consumer focus meetings. Post upcoming.

  7. Bob Wilson

    February 27, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I just want to know if they plan on teaching them how to steamguide properly steam milk so the foam doesn’t look like a bubble bath (hint: don’t re-steam the milk).

  8. Mike Price

    February 27, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I don’t care for their product, but that has nothing to do with what I think of their business model, which thus far has been a good one. My opinion remains unchanged.

  9. Kris Berg

    February 27, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Bob, That is indeed one of the “Biggies” they are reteaching. 🙂

  10. Sparky

    February 27, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Did you catch the story on Fox last night during the training sessions? SB patrons were totally ‘jacked’ and upset ‘cuz the doors were locked, but they could see in, and see all the workers in there, and they couldn’t get their fix. So they all went just down the street to Dunkin Donuts…

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.



Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.



Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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Business Marketing

Apple sues recycling company for reselling products instead

(MARKETING) Apple sues recycling company it says was “stealing,” refurbishing, and reselling devices it was paid to strip down.



Apple products stacked together to be sent for recycling.

If you sent an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch to Apple for recycling between 2015 and 2017, you might actually have been part of “reuse” in the “reduce, reuse, recycle” cycle.

That’s good, right? Nope, says Apple. The tech giant had been paying the company GEEP Canada to take apart and salvage materials from its devices sent for recycling. But according to a lawsuit by Apple Canada, GEEP Canada actually refurbished and resold more than 100,000 devices it had been paid to dismantle.

“At least 11,766 pounds of Apple devices left GEEP’s premises without being destroyed – a fact that GEEP itself confirmed,” Apple says in its complaint, as reported by The Verge.

The recycling firm denies wrongdoing and has filed a third-party suit that says “theft happened” but it’s not on them because it was 3 “rogue” employees who stole and sold the devices for themselves, not for the company. They want those employees to pay, alleging that they hurt the company’s business. However, Apple says, those 3 employees were actually senior management.

How did Apple find out? During an audit at GEEP Canada’s Ontario warehouse, Apple found its devices were being stored in an area not covered by security cameras, according to Apple Insider (via The Logic). Of the roughly 575,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches it had sent GEEP between January 2015 and December 2017, 18% were being used on a telecom carrier network. That doesn’t include wi-fi only devices, so the actual number could be much higher.

It’s not just paying for services and materials they did not receive that upset Apple. Resales of refurbished devices hurt demand for new products, created potential safety issues for consumers, and damaged its brand, the suit alleges, according to The Logic. The company is asking for roughly $22.7 million in addition to the money GEEP made from resales. GEEP wants the employees to pay, alleging that they hurt the company’s business. GEEP is now part of Quantum Lifecycle Partners, which says they have nothing to do with all this.

Could/should these devices have been refurbished? “Products sent for recycling are no longer adequate to sell to consumers and if they are rebuilt with counterfeit parts they could cause serious safety issues, including electrical or battery defects,” Apple told The Verge.

Paying a company for recycling services they aren’t, in fact, providing is generally a reasonable basis for a lawsuit. But this case is also likely to draw more attention to the “right-to-repair” movement, which accuses Apple of restricting third-party repair shops. Activists are pushing Apple to focus on reuse over recycling, and the issue has been under review by the US House Judiciary Committee as part of an antitrust investigation of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google-parent Alphabet.

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