It’s the time of year when the flavors of fall fade away, and peppermint mochas beckon consumer to get holly jolly. A significant signaling of the holidays is Starbucks’s red cup. Since 1997, Starbucks has welcomed the holidays with a cup that ranges from modern and abstract to nostalgic and traditional. The cup design is mostly red with white details to evoke the warm fuzzy feelings we associate with Christmas. In 2015, the company took advantage of the popularity of minimalism in design and debuted a completely red cup.
The cup spawned a social media uproar. Consumers claimed there was no holiday cheer or mention of Christmas on the cup. A movement of people ordering coffee and asking for their name to be “Merry Christmas” and posted it on Twitter with the hashtag #merrychristmasstarbucks. To avoid another round of controversy, Starbucks responded with a brilliant campaign in 2016. The cup was to be designed by the consumer. Starbucks held a contest to support the creativity of their customers by inviting them to share their designs on Instagram. Starbucks received more than 1,200 individual submissions from 13 countries, and the images were featured in an online cup collection. Every design was featured on a cup. This excellent PR work remediated the outrage that sparked the year before.
In 2017, Starbucks fuzed its ideas from the previous two years in honor of the holiday cup’s 20th anniversary. This year’s cup features a black and white sketch with just a few splashes of red and green. The design is meant to encourage drinkers to grab their art supplies and fill in the rest. The design was described by the Executive Creative Director Leanne Fremar as an “ode to years’ past.”
In the colder months, Starbucks profits raise on an average of 12% and the reaction to their holiday menu on social media is always highly positive. Starbucks continues to be the master of consumer-based and straightforward marketing strategies that keep on giving. Which holiday cup was your favorite and why?