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How Starbucks used 26 emoticons to get 130,000 followers

An introduction:


Starbucks is the premier roaster, marketer and retailer of specialty coffee in the world, operating in 68 countries.


With approximately 24,000 Starbucks stores worldwide and 60 million customers daily, generating more than $20 billion in revenue annually, it has become one of the most renowned players in their industry.


WeChat Strategy For Success:


In 2012, Starbucks launched a new product by the name of Refresha, made from green coffee bean extract. To introduce the new drink on a large scale to their Chinese consumers, Starbucks launched a social media platform campaign that was both fun and memorable and also effectively persuaded their fans to actively participate.


  • Using WeChat as the platform to spark off Refresha among their customers, Starbucks started the campaign by placing QR codes in their stores on cup sleeves and posters so that users could scan and add the coffee chain as a friend on WeChat. The coffee chain then created a playlist of 26 songs to engage with their customers.
  • Their fans were then invited to send in any of WeChat’s 26 emoticons to express their mood or feelings. In turn, Starbucks would respond with an appropriate song to correspond to that mood.


Over the course of 4 weeks, Starbucks gained approximately 130,000 WeChat friends, and most surprisingly of all the sales volume for Refresha hit RMB 7.5 million in a mere 3 weeks.


  • All of this was accomplished on a budget of just RMB 250,000 (US$36,000). In addition to this, the brand’s Sina Weibo account gained a 9% increase in fans and generated over 57,000 reposts and comments.


This campaign shows that WeChat can be an incredibly efficient and effective tool in social media marketing in China. It also suggests that consumers in China use many different social media platforms and that, by successfully using one, you can strengthen your standing on another.



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