CNN calls it the Disaster Index but I call it the ultimate in brand positioning.
When Sandy hit the Northeast leaving many without power, internet, or a charged phone, where did they go?
Their local Starbucks!
Why? Because they don't just go there to buy coffee, they go there to connect with others from the community, to get an update on what's going on, and in this case to get refueled in more ways than one.
Starbucks has gotten ingrained in many people's lives in this way, so of course they would turn to that same place in a time of need.
The problem is that this time around many of the Starbucks were also closed, leaving people without a place to connect. The brand they rely on was also suffering, making them even more a part of the community's ordeal. Hence the Starbucks Disaster Index ... the number of closed locations was an indication of just how bad the storm hit people.
So while CNN used this to partially measure the story's behavioral impact, I say it shows the power of a well connected brand with its community.
Positioning is all about how you want your consumers to think about you as a brand - I'm sure Starbucks is delighted to see theirs is so much more than a cup of coffee.
What's your experience? Jim.
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU