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We need to look at marketing as an experience rather than a transaction: Deepa Krishnan, Starbucks India

To understand the growing clout of the experiential in the marketing mix, we recently spoke to Deepa Krishnan, Head Marketing, Digital, Loyalty and PR at Starbucks and here is what she had to say.

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Brands are moving from traditional advertising to curating immersive experiences. Popular American coffee chain Starbucks has solely relied on this strategy and become a case study of sorts for marketers.

To understand the growing clout of the experiential in the marketing mix,  we recently spoke to Deepa Krishnan, Head Marketing, Digital, Loyalty and PR at Starbucks and here is what she had to say.

Excerpts:

How important has experiential become from a marketers perspective?

Experience is one of the key defining pillars of Starbucks. Our brand vision is rooted in experience--to inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time. 

For us, experience is about making you feel special when you walk into a Starbucks, getting your beverage perfectly right and making you feel recognised and loved. And everytime you walk into Starbucks we are constantly endeavoring to get this right.

In your industry it is less about the coffee but more about the experiences you create, how do you see the experience piece shaping up in marketing conversations over the next few years?

We really are in the business of providing fantastic experiences to our customers. As the world is becoming more and more digital, people are becoming lonelier. Therefore, we call ourselves the place which offers the best third place experience which is away from your home or office.Here you can connect  and be the best version of yourselves. And going forward there will be space for all kinds of players and experiences but only the best will be able to survive.

What are your views about traditional advertising in times when experiential is the buzzword?

We believe that you need to connect with your customers in a way that is meaningful to them. For us, the brand is the in-store experience. So if you visit  Starbucks, if we are able to give you a fantastic experience you will come back again. There are few brands for whom the experience is built in-store. We do not want to do television in India and we think that digital is a very powerful media for us to connect and we are present in digital in a big way. A lot of our TG is millenial and we are where our customers want us to be.

Finally, how are you adapting to the demands of the new consumers and creating compelling experiences for them?

Millennial customers today are far more evolved. At the same time they are tough consumers and saying--make it worth my while and talk about causes that resonate with me. Yes brands certainly need to work harder and we must remember that brands are not built on the back of advertising alone, it's a whole packaging that has to come together. Also when you are managing a brand, it is like managing a relationship. It's about Love--Loyalty, On-trend, Vision and Experiences. A brand like Starbucks is highly experiential and we need to look at marketing as an experience rather than a transaction.



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