Starbuck’s Omni-Channel Approach to Holiday Marketing

 In Digital Marketing, Email, Holiday

Well, it’s that time of year. The holiday season is upon us and there’s no doubt you’ve been getting emails from brands that are hoping you’ll spend your hard earned cash with them.

But what about other channels? After all, there is a lot more potential out there to reach customers if your brand is using a multi-channel marketing approach.

Right now, approximately 90% of brands are on multiple social media channels as you can see in this chart:

yesmail_frequently_used-e1434675097223The stats prove that reaching customers on multiple channels is paying off.

The 2016 Black Friday was record breaking, not only in terms of overall sales ($3 billion) but also the number of sales from mobile devices ($1 billion). The same was true for Cyber Monday as well, with sales up 12% from 2015, hitting approximately $3.4 billion dollars.

According to CMO.com, the types of devices consumers used to shop through the month of November expanded as well:

  • Desktop Share of Sales: 69%
  • Mobile Share of Sales: 31%
  • Smartphone Share of Sales: 22%
  • Tablet Share of Sales: 9%

In this post, we’re going to follow one brand that has been able to reach customers through a number of marketing platforms during the holiday season of the years, Starbucks. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take a few tips that you can apply to your own marketing plans.

So away we go!

Starbucks Case Study: Red Cups

Starbucks is one brand that tries to get users involved over a number of different channels during the holiday season. In 2016, it was the 19th year of Starbucks bringing back it’s Red Cups for the holidays.

They’ve managed to not only make the Red Cups an event in the mind of their most loyal customers, but they also have been able to use the announcement to drive engagement as well.


Starbucks goes all in with their social media channels when it comes to the Red Cups. They make sure to include tons of gifs and images in anything that’s posted. You can see their Red Cups all over their channels and they’ve even got a little red cup emoji on Twitter too.

Here, Starbucks not only promotes the Red Cups but they also tell a story that involves their actual customers. The video highlights how Starbucks makes the cups, but it’s really the customers who turn them into something really special.


Customers can share on Twitter and Instagram any images that feature the Red Cups (with the hashtag #RedCupsContest) and be in the running to win a gift card.

Starbucks also makes sure to highlight their customers in their posts as well, doing lots of re-gramming and re-tweeting with anyone who uses their hashtags.


Starbucks consumers seem to really enjoy sharing their #RedCupContest posts with both the brand and other users too.

Here are just a few of the over 40,000 images that have been tagged #RedCupContest on Instagram.

starbucks red cup instagram


Starbucks makes sure to also let consumers know when Red Cups are live. Come mid-November, all of the branding around Starbucks immediately changes to highlight the Red Cups. It’s a really good idea to do that for a couple of reasons, namely it helps build excitement and trigger those holiday feelings (which are generally positive with people).

In this Facebook post, Starbucks simply updated their cover photo to highlight the new Red Cups.

red cups facebook

This post alone got over 5,600 shares, 3,300 comments and over 98,000 (!) reactions.


Starbucks hasn’t stopped at promoting their Red Cups just on the main social media sites, they’ve also created a Red Cups themed filter for Snapchat too.

This filter coincided with the official launch of the Red Cups, so it was only a one day filter. During the holiday season, Starbucks plans to release additional filters as well.


Just because Starbucks has a big focus on their social media channels in promoting their product via the Red Cups, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t also focusing on their website as well.

When the Red Cups event was launched, Starbucks offered a special deal for customers that they could save on their calendar.




red cups ornamentThe eCommerce side of the Starbucks website also makes sure to highlight Red Cups also. Consumers who love the Red Cups can buy Red Cup Christmas tree lights and ornaments, Red Cup mugs, and Red Cup themed gift sets:

App Messaging

Finally, those customers who use the Starbucks app are also frequently alerted when new events, drinks, and app features arrive.

starbucks app

They are also sure to provide users with a gentle reminder that they can buy holiday gifts right from their app too.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, Starbucks has their holiday marketing down pat. And, even with the increase in new channels over the last few years such as Snapchat and the app, Starbucks has been able to do a full-scale promotion around their Red Cup event. They’ve been able to promote in a way that goes beyond just getting people to come into the stores in person, but to also shop online and via their app.

How is your brand approaching multi-channel marketing this holiday season?