Every September, Starbucks signals the start of fall with the release of their iconic pumpkin spice latte. This year was no different, but it came with an added surprise when I opened the door to my local Starbucks last week and saw in all caps: “PSL | People Share Love.” Right away it left me with a happy feeling, not about my drink so much (I ordered an Americano), but about the effect of this simple message, buried in the double-meaning of an acronym on a sign. What a cool idea—inspiring us to share the love.
Here, in the midst of arguably one of the ugliest U.S. Presidential campaigns ever was a coffee company boldly stating the positive about something. People share the love. Period. The iconic pumpkin spice latte signals the coming of the warmth of the holidays. By engaging this product in the social media world, Starbucks is creating a platform for sharing. And for sharing something simple, and something positive—the place this iconic drink has in creating good feelings, and memories to share.
PSL has 113,000+ Twitter followers where the drink “talks” with customers, saying things like “@ChandraXChan—looks like you started your day on the right foot” or “@Sharond_J—See you tomorrow, Sharonda.” Or this one, “Ah HA! Been waiting all year to do this. #BreakingInTheBoots.”
Starbucks continues to be a leading brand when it comes to sharing platforms and humanizing their brand. But when you really think about it, this is not that difficult, and something many more businesses could learn from in an effort to connect their brand with the people that matter. Anyone can sell a cup of coffee, or (insert your product type here). But if you listen to the social signals around you, you’ll find rich and deep connection points that could be the platform for a thoughtful, memorable customer experience.
Right now I’m going to go out on a limb and say there are many of us who crave a positive reason to talk about something. Starbucks is creating that, and in so doing, they are building a deeper connection with me as a brand that is relevant and has a meaningful place in my world. No matter what you sell, the way you make your customers feel, and the experience you create cannot be commoditized.