The Good, Bad And Ugly From Marketing The Unicorn Frappuccino
by Josh Amidon
If you know me, you know I love a fad, I love getting caught up in something sweeping the nation. That’s why this past week, I tried Starbucks’ new insane drink – the Unicorn Frappuccino. I would never order the item ever again, but I enjoy saying I tried it. With over 40 grams of sugar in 12 ounces, the Unicorn Frappuccino tasted horrible - like what I imagine rainbows, glitter and diabetes would taste like if you could suck it through a straw.
I took only three sips and threw the rest away, partially because it’s sweeter than Taylor Swift eating cotton candy and partially because I’m a grown 32-year-old-man, who felt way too old to be carrying one of these pink and sky blue drinks down the street, having to dodge the judgmental stares of real adults.
Anyway, what’s the good, bad and the ugly Starbucks has to take away from this?
The Good: Creating insane and odd tasting products is new to Starbucks and they’re doing it for a very specific reason. While Starbucks sales may be strong, that’s not why the Starbucks bigwigs were worried enough to pull off such a Taco Bell or Burger King type of move. It’s because Millennials and Gen Z’ers are beginning to dump big chain coffee houses in droves and heading for more local, mom-and-pop hipster coffee places.
Starbucks needed to do something to remain hip and young – this stunt worked. Kids (and adults of all ages) flooded the store to taste the new craze.
The Bad: Right now, trying to find a Unicorn Frappuccino is like trying to find a real unicorn. Starbucks purposely gave their stores tiny amounts of product to create the sweet concoction – hoping when they sold out, the demand would go even higher.
This proves that Starbucks is no longer in the millennial game. If this was 10 years ago, fine, I could see how their thinking might have worked. Younger generations very rarely respond to this type of tactic. There’s countless other options where these people can spend their money, they don’t need to play your game anymore, Starbucks. You just spent a ton of money to reintroduce your brand to a major segment of the population and many of them walked away disappointed. Not good.
The Ugly: This whole promotion hasn’t even been out a week yet and it’s gone completely off the rails. You’ve gone and done the one thing you should never do in the world of marketing – you’ve pissed off your #1 source for word-of-mouth marketing. Your employees.
Within days of this drink debuting, countless Baristas posted on social media about how much they hate Starbucks’ new drink, making it and the customers who order it - many of which went viral. Ouch. Apparently, this new drink is VERY time consuming and Starbucks Baristas have finally snapped.
So in short, Starbucks garnered some huge buzz last week with their newest stunt (oh, I mean drink), but they botched it too. Who cares? It was fun!