Anyone visiting a Starbucks recently will probably notice two things. Firstly, how Apple dominated the brand has become. You will usually see iPads and MacBooks outnumber all other types of technology four or five to one. It is almost a prerequisite to go with your Mocha Light Frapp. And this is reinforced by the second point which is the free iTunes apps and media that they give away. Each week there is either a free book, TV show, app or song to download. Just type in the code on the back of the card in the iTunes store and away you go. You can understand why Apple users flock to Starbucks.
With the Google Nexus 7 imminently arriving, you would think that there would be an emphasis on replicating this model with other coffee brands such as Costa or Nero. So far all is quiet but it would not surprise me if Execs at Whitbread are looking at the Nexus as an opportunity.
The reason being, it is clearly working for Starbucks and Apple. The scheme has been running for over a year now and those little credit card sized bits of paper are still there at the end of the cafe bar. Coupled with the free WiFi, Starbucks has become not just a place to hang out, but a place to work. The free music and apps sweeten the deal.
The problem Google is facing us that it cannot, yet, match Apple for media content. The UK still does not have Google Music or the film purchase functionality and this is already starting to cloud the release of the Nexus 7. But it is not just Google who could capitalise from this model.
Coffee and shops go hand in hand. Nowadays you see Costa Coffee embedded into branches of WH Smith’s, and yesteryear Starbucks were too embedded in branches of now defunct Borders chain of book shops. In order to entice consumers in, more carrots are being dangled in front of our capitalist donkey noses, and that extends to how we spend our disposable income.
In order to entice consumers in, more carrots are being dangled in front of our capitalist donkey noses…
There is no better example than the iPad; a device with little achievable merit outside of media consumption (which goes for all tablet computers in fact, Android included). If we, as consumers, need an excuse to spend money (and let’s be honest, most do not) then an over priced coffee is as good an excuse as any. Why not just sweeten the deal by getting a free 69p app?
Whether Google gets its act together anytime soon is unknown, but all retailers have the opportunity to capitalise on the inevitable influx of tablet users that the Nexus 7 will bring. There are a lot of high street brands that have made in-roads into digital media in the UK, Tesco and HMV in particular. For them, pushing their own app and music stores with devices is obvious. A free app store voucher being the easiest hook at the point of sale.
But those, such as WH Smith’s have a greater opportunity as they are already heavily tied in to digital distribution. A free book of the month from Kobo not only supports sales of devices such as the Vox tablet in style, but is platform agnostic (favouring non-Android e-readers). A music tie up is a natural extension of this. Couple this concept to a QR code by the checkout of the embedded cafe and you then have a reason for customers to favour one brand more than the other.
A free book of the month from Kobo is platform agnostic (favouring non-Android e-readers too).
So let’s grab a coffee and a free book. And maybe we’ll give Starbucks a miss and go for something that is not Apple branded for a change.