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What your brand can learn from the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino


Sam Akbari - July 27, 2018 - 0 comments

Recently I’ve been thinking about my content consumption habits. About how I, a millennial Gen Y woman, view and consume marketing and content. Working in content marketing means I’m a little more ‘woke’ (as millennials would say) about marketing tactics aimed at me, but what fascinates me even more is what interests the next generation.

Gen Z are a unique breed, the first true digital natives who have grown up with the glare of a screen in their eyes and a smart device in their hands. By 2020 Generation Z will account for 40 per cent of consumers, so how brands market to this new crop of customers is going to be crucial over the next few years. Maybe it’s time to forget your current target audience and focus on the future.

The facts about Gen Z

According to a recent report from IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), Generation Z is estimated to be between 2 and 2.52 billion in size. The comprehensive study surveyed 15,600 Gen Zers aged between 13 and 21 across 16 countries, and uncovered some interesting facts: 60 per cent of the Gen Zers surveyed will not use an app or website that’s too slow to load, while 62 per cent said they will not use apps that are hard to navigate.

They’re also super connected and mobile-first, with 25 per cent spending more than five hours on their phone every day and 75 per cent using a mobile or smartphone as their primary device. Gen Z also tends to use social media as their main source of research and information; 85 per cent of Generation Z learn about new products through social media.

When it comes to content and marketing there are a few publishers and brands taking notice of Gen Zers and their behaviour and targeting them specifically:

Starbucks

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve seen a photo of one of the new Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccinos. Here’s a lesson in tapping into internet culture set by Gen Z.

The unicorn craze has been all over the internet recently, with rainbow-coloured, glitter-infused garish products and designs making it big. Instagram has been flooded with pastel food and drinks, and customers have been ‘hacking’ Starbucks drinks to create the unicorn-coloured fantasy they want to snap and share with their network.

Rather than let this trend pass them by, Starbucks jumped on the opportunity to turn a trend into a real product offering. The “Unicorn Frappuccino® blended beverage” was born, complete with a registered trademark.

(Image source: Starbucks)

This limited-edition product is the result of a brand keeping their finger on the pulse of what’s popular online with Gen Z customers and leveraging it for themselves. Starbucks now has a viral success on their hands, with more than 150,000 Instagram posts under the hashtag #unicornfrappuccino and a huge amount of publicity for their product. The quirky drink has been so successful that Starbucks has announced more funky drinks are on the way. Don’t go looking for a Unicorn Frappuccino now, though, because the limited edition has already run out.

To Her Door

The premise of To Her Door is simple: it’s an email newsletter sent directly to the user’s inbox. This isn’t particularly new or flashy, but it is an antidote to the content overload that most internet users experience.

The website offers a description of To Her Door:

“Inspired by the women of Australia, To Her Door brings creativity, feminism, politics, and current events right to your inbox. We’re dedicated to telling you stories that matter – and that you actually want to read.”

Rather than requiring the reader to trawl through the internet to find something interesting, this newsletter curates content for their subscribers and all the content is featured in the email itself.

To Her Door is targeting a niche audience and doing it well. The user experience is top quality and the unusual format is tailor-made for the Gen Z reader who spends time online, wants to be part of a community and appreciates a unique digital experience.

Punkee

Punkee launched in May 2017 and is a rebranded site in the Australian Junkee Media network. Junkee Media noticed the audience of one of their sites, The Vine, was a lot younger than another of sites, Junkee, so they took this data and ran with it. They rebranded The Vine as Punkee and used insights into Gen Z and their content habits as the basis for a new strategy.

(Image source: Mumbrella)

As reported on Mumbrella, Junkee Media has created a new site strategy for Punkee and its readers. Punkee is mobile-only – there’s no desktop version of the site. This goes one step further than the mobile-first mentality a lot of brands have adopted in recent years. They’ve also taken note of the Gen Z preference for short, sharp video content and the tendency to find this content off platform on places like Facebook and Snapchat.

Junkee Media has aligned their strategy with the wants and needs of Gen Z. The Punkee approach sets the standard for knowing your audience, what they want and where to find them.

Key learning for your marketing approach

  • Create a unique experience for Gen Z.
  • Take notice of what your data is telling you.
  • Don’t try to cater to everyone at once – your strategy needs to be tailored to each generation.
  • Be reactive to trends that your brand can align with.
  • And finally, get started with your Gen Z strategy now!

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