How Starbucks' Mastered the Evolution of the 7Ps of Marketing

The Journey from 4 Ps to 7 Ps: A Starbucks Tale

In the beginning, like many companies, Starbucks’ marketing approach revolved around the classic 4Ps – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. During that simpler time, businesses held sway, determining which products would dominate the market. 

Starbucks capitalized on this opportunity by offering a premium Product – their high-quality, gourmet coffee. They established an appropriate Price that aligned with the product’s quality, strategically placed their coffee shops in key locations for maximum exposure, and employed clever Promotions to attract coffee connoisseurs.

But winds of change began to blow.

The era of services emerged, necessitating an expanded 7 Ps marketing framework, which incorporated People, Process, and Physical Evidence alongside the original 4 Ps. Starbucks spearheaded this evolution, transforming from a mere coffee vendor into a provider of a comprehensive coffee experience.

The People behind Starbucks – including the knowledgeable baristas and the menu development team – played a vital role in the company’s success story. The Process of consistently creating superior quality experiences across all locations became paramount. Physical Evidence no longer solely referred to the coffee itself; it encompassed the ambiance of the coffee shops – the unique ‘Starbucks Experience’ that made customers feel at home. 

Starbucks successfully transitioned from Marketing 1.0 to Marketing 2.0.

Then came the Digital Revolution: Enter the 4Cs

With the advent of the digital revolution, power dynamics shifted, and Starbucks, always a pioneer, adapted once more. The 4 Cs of marketing emerged – Customer needs, Cost to the customer, Convenience, and Communication – emphasizing the shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

Starbucks focused on understanding and fulfilling Customer needs, offering personalized rewards and enabling mobile ordering. They ensured Competitive pricing and optimized Convenience through their widespread locations and digital innovations. Through effective Communication, they engaged with their customers, cultivating loyal fans.

Adapting to the Unique: The Future of Starbucks

Starbucks has shown that while models like the 4 Ps, 7 Ps, and 4 Cs provide an excellent starting point, they are not one-size-fits-all strategies. The true strength of a brand lies in its ability to adapt these models to suit its unique context.

Starbucks considered their audience, product, market, and unique selling proposition to tailor these frameworks and best serve their needs. They have demonstrated that the best marketers are lifelong learners who fearlessly explore uncharted territories.

So, in this ever-changing marketing landscape, are you ready to evolve and adapt like Starbucks? Embrace the evolution, and you will be well-equipped to ride the wave of change.

Welcome to Marketing 4.0 and beyond. 

Cameron Becker

Is an MSc Digital Marketing student who consults with businesses and individuals across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. He has 8+ years of experience in digital marketing and marketing automation.



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