Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

Secondary Research Can Enhance Primary Research

August 4, 2010

Most of the marketing research a small business owner or startup entrepreneur does is secondary: research that has already been conducted by another entity for some other purpose, and later published in mass media sources. Often, businesses rely upon secondary research for marketing information because conducting their own primary research can be very expensive. While one must be careful to understand the purpose for and methodology by which the secondary research was conducted, it can be quite beneficial in many ways, including enhancing primary research. Secondary research provides the following benefits:

Setting the Stage for Future Primary Research

Sometimes you have no clue what you’re trying to find. Let’s say that you want to start a coffee shop in your town, but because of the likes of Starbucks and Caribou Coffee, you’re not sure whether your market is saturated, or if there is a way to differentiate yourself. Secondary research can be an invaluable tool to help you explore. The Yellow Pages, the Web sites of chain stores – Starbucks, Caribou, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s – selling coffee, and the entertainment sections of newspapers can tell you how much competition you’re facing.

Secondary research might even be able to help you identify demographics of your community that you can use to your advantage. You examine the Census Bureau’s demographic data for the ZIP codes within a five-mile radius of your proposed location. You notice from other sources that there are about 10 competing eating and drinking establishments like those we named above. But from the Census data, you uncover a sizeable ethnic Middle Eastern or Eastern Mediterranean population. You might be able to refine your business concept to be a coffee shop that specializes in selling Eastern Mediterranean style coffees, or medium- to highly- acidic variety coffees, as is common in the Middle East. Now, you can do some basic primary research like small-scale surveys and focus groups to members of the community to see how receptive they would be to a coffee shop with that theme.

Reducing the Scope and Cost of Primary Research

Why spend $20,000 on a full-scale primary research project if you can find available data to meet a large amount of your needs? For example, you’re trying to find out what types of Middle Eastern coffees are selling well in the area. Conducting a survey can be very costly. But if you can find out what you need to know from trade publications covering the food and beverage industries, you might be able to save yourself quite a bit of time and money. Assume you read that a few kinds of Middle Eastern coffees are selling well – or are on an increasing trend – in various parts of the country. Now, you might order a few pounds of each, and then invite local residents to do a taste test and give their thoughts. Your secondary research has saved you thousands of dollars and several days of fieldwork.

Putting Primary Research Results in Perspective

You can even use secondary research to help validate what you find in your primary research. If you were to conduct a survey of your coffee shop’s customers and ask them what kinds of pastries you might serve in your shop, you might see a lot of responses suggesting berry-flavored cobblers and scones, pastries containing cinnamon or cardamom, and even some chocolate. By doing your secondary research, you will also find that, in the Eastern Mediterranean, berries, cinnamon, and cardamom are common flavor pairings, since coffees of that region tend to have berry- and wine-like characteristics, with some element of spice and cocoa. Secondary research, in this case, has validated what your primary research is indicating.

Most times, secondary research is all the marketing research you’ll need to do. However, when you need to do primary research, a good, ongoing system of secondary research can help you discover new information so that you can explore and pursue different avenues in your primary research; fill in several blanks in your research so that you need not reinvent the wheel; and complement any primary research so you can substantiate its findings.

Starbucks Serves Up Great Marketing as Well As Great Coffee

March 4, 2009

Yesterday, March 3, I had the privilege and honor to meet Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.  Schultz was visiting various downtown Chicago Starbucks stores, and the one I frequent – 600 N. State – was one of them.

The store staff quickly pointed me out to Mr. Schultz as one of their most loyal, and he asked me a couple of questions about my experiences with that Starbucks store.  I told him how I couldn’t have been more pleased with the customer service bestowed upon me by the partners at this Starbucks.  (Note: Starbucks refers to its store employees as partners – GREAT MARKETING!!).

Mr. Schultz impressed me much, but not by anything he said.  In fact, Mr. Schultz didn’t do much talking.  He did a lot of listening.   Schultz asked many questions, both to partners and to customers.  I was there to see it.  And I was never prouder to be a Starbucks regular.  Especially at the 600 N. State Street store.

Now, to set the record straight, I frequent several Starbucks stores, and I’m highly pleased with the service I get from all of them.  But at 600 N. State, the partners really know how to make their customers feel welcome and appreciated.

Under the stewardship of store manager Tiffany and assistant store manager Danielle, the partners consistently greet customers and get to know them by name.  They know us by our regular drinks and are quick to start preparing them.  They ask us about our lives, and share information about theirs when we reciprocate.  At 600 N. State, you feel more like a party guest than a paying customer.

The partners at 600 N. State all seem happy to be working there and come from all walks of life: white, black, Hispanic; young, middle-aged; straight, gay.  This store is all-inclusive, both in terms of staff and customers. 

Howard Schultz and the Starbucks chain exemplify great marketing principles, particularly:

  • That the most effective, least expensive marketing research is listening to your customers;
  • If you’re providing a service (and Starbucks delivers as much a service as it does a product), make sure your service providers – your partners – are happy.  Happy employees beget happy customers; and
  • That a happy customer becomes a regular customer and a happy regular customer becomes a referring customer.

Rock on Starbucks!