Starbucks & Holidays 2021: A tale of Insta-worthy musical red cups
With new products, partnerships and several spoonfuls of Taylor Swift, the winter of 2021 is a step up for Starbucks red cups. Read on for the brew.
In 1997, when the first Starbucks holiday cups were launched, they weren’t red. It had swirls and hand-drawn holly leaves that were flecked with coffee beans — on a base of magenta. Two years later, a discussion about the various hues of red had helped the team land on a vibrant shade of candy-apple red that resonated well with customers. That’s where the journey began, which has now grown manifold with the red cups being leveraged on social media.
Each year, Starbucks launches new designs and drinks to mark the beginning of the holiday season while keeping the essence of that joyous red intact. For 2021, they have released four design variations, which have been created using the ‘festive colours of red, green and white with playful touches of lilac’. The designs have been named Wrapping Paper, Ribbon, Holiday Light, and Candy Cane.
Every year, Starbucks puts special emphasis on their holiday drinks. It’s a ritual to mark the beginning of winters. They are equally passionate about other seasons too. However, given the winter-hot beverage connection, the Christmas holidays are extra special. They focus on the uniqueness of the flavours and express how their offerings are just what people need to keep going. It helps them keep things light and interesting for even the regular consumers, who are likely to spot a new menu every few weeks. These new menus are always limited-edition, adding value to the product, making them fit for the special pricing.
This year, given a decrease in footfalls at stores, they have put in extra efforts to bring the magic home to people — by partnering with Zomato and Swiggy to order beverages from select eateries at reduced prices.
This winter has been extremely special for Swifties, with Taylor Swift re-releasing her version of Red. One of the songs in the album, All Too Well, was quick to run up the charts and spark conversations. Leveraging and joining the trend, Starbucks made available Taylor’s Version of her favourite drink, Caramel Skim Latte — in all their local stores. The partnership includes adding more of her songs to their store playlists. The collaboration was amplified with the help of a tweet by Starbucks (to fuel anticipation), a short video with the red scarf, and Taylor’s album cover for Red.
Also Read: Awake & Aware: How Indian coffee brands make the most of Instagram
Partnerships To Sell Merchandises
Starbucks India called for people to #SparkMerry this holiday season — with new flavours and merchandise. The Holiday Collection was promoted online with multiple posts. Partnerships with Tata Cliq and Flipkart are also being advertised, nudging people to buy the new products from these e-commerce platforms. It is an add-on for Starbucks as they already have these products on sale at their stores too.
There is something about entering a cafe for a warm cup of coffee on a chilly day. Over the last several years, Starbucks has been trying to bring this experience to their customers, via packaged blends. At the stores (and via home delivery) new flavours are launched or old favourites are brought back as Season’s Specials. They are promoted using social media to make people aware quickly as these are often limited-edition offerings.
The social media presence of Starbucks stands out for being strongly backed by in-store initiatives, including the red cups. The posts are mere extensions of real-life offerings, pushing for sales through and through. Even when the conversation is about e-commerce, stores do find a mention in the communication. Their captions are mostly information-heavy. Lately, they have been adding disclaimers due to COVID-19.
This year, thanks to Taylor Swift, they have truly stepped up the scope of their winter campaign. One can only wonder what the next year would bring along.