Friday, December 7

Starbucks and Williams-Sonoma

It's a match made in, well, the kitchen ... Starbucks and Williams-Sonoma have started working together and many are saying it's a pairing that is ripe for a bigger future.

Exclusive units of an in-home coffee maker from Starbucks are now available at kitchen retailer Williams-Sonoma ... the move makes sense, but is it the sign of bigger things to come?

I'm not sure, but we can certainly speculate.

Moves like this are not new to Starbucks.  The brand is also partnering with cupcake guru Crumbs, offering Starbucks blends and drinks at their locations.  This seems like a move to up their ante in food, which Starbucks has long been on the weak side, according to many.

A more "intense" relationship with Williams-Sonoma could also shore up another under-developed portion of the Starbucks portfolio ... e-commerce, which is both a focus area and strength of Williams-Sonoma (they have in fact closed retail locations and have funneled resources to online marketing).  At one point, there was even some bidding action going on.

A perfect match?  Maybe.  Both dominate in the "food" arena, but for different reasons.  One very strong (incredibly strong) at physical locations and daily traffic, the other super strong with key destination retail and more importantly online retailing, a growth arena.  Both with brand equity strength that rival and compliment each other.

I think we'll see a lot more of it.  Two titans running around the kitchen, sharing equities to shore up their businesses ... online and off.  Will co-branding come next?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

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