Hackernoon logoWhy is Starbucks Korea Doing So Well Despite the Pandemic? by@databug

Why is Starbucks Korea Doing So Well Despite the Pandemic?

Andrew Hacker Noon profile picture


Data Scientist for Food Tech. Based in South Korea


Recently there was this news where a single customer decided to buy a bunch of americanos (roughly $1071 worth) just to buy 17 "summer bags" that was launched by Starbucks Korea. This event just to show how Starbucks Korea succeeds in bring customers to their doorstep despite the pandemic.

Here is why I think this phenomenon was possible.

1. Resale market value is crazy for these collectibles. (Scarcity, Exclusivity)


If you have the scarcity of the Nike limited edition shoes drops in the US, in Korea, we have the scarcity of the Starbucks seasonal products. Once sold, never resold again. (Scarcity and Exclusivity plays a big part)

Another keyword would be the exclusivity that comes with buying the bags. You have to at least buy 17 drinks (3 special drinks, 14 normal drinks) to collect e-frequency points to get a chance to exchange the coupon these exclusive items (if they are available)

So with the awesome mix of scarcity and exclusivity, the resale value of these "complementary bags" is explosive. They cost in the range of 100~190 dollars per bag. It also created a third market where people sell their stickers and send them to other people so that they too can receive their bag in a more speedily manner.

2. It's easy to order with the launch of "siren order" application

What's a "siren" order?

Starbucks Korea was the first to launch the mobile-based ordering feature which enables consumers to order a drink online and pick up their orders offline without waiting in line. This was proven effective in shortening long lines and speed up the waiting time for large bulk orders.

This also reduced the need for bringing the membership card every time to order to collect points and exclusive stickers.

So with this feature in place, Starbucks Korea was ready for the non-contact business way before the COVID-19 Crisis.

3. They have drive-throughs and online app deliveries.


Fast-food chains have drive-throughs why not coffee?

Starbucks also created drive-thoughs cafes to keep up with people who are too busy to park-order-wait. Now that investment is paying off especially during this pandemic.

You don't have a car? Don't worry we deliver as well.

Online delivery order is the culture in South Korea, literally everything is delivered to everywhere as long as they have a local biking agency to take that order and deliver it to your house. Starbucks Korea is integrated into this system so deeply you can payment them online and just receive your prepaid drink in the comfort of your house.

4. It's very Instagram-able and considered a valuable "social currency"


Everyone wants to be noticed in the Social Network space.

Starbucks products do create "social currency" and could get people talking about it starting with the luxurious design and exclusive back story on the "journey" in getting that specific bag.

5. Starbucks Mobile Coupons are literally "Everywhere"


In Korea, people have these mobile coupon system where you could gift a specific product to your friend through your personal messenger.(Kakaotalk in Korea or What'sApp in US)

Also, Starbucks is considered as an "affordable luxury" product here. So most birthday presents among "working professionals" would be a cup of ice americano through these coupons. These coupons makes Starbucks coffee easy to buy, send, and pick up whenever, whereever.

A closing note, there might be a lot of other reasons why people flock to starbucks during the pandemic but these are main common reasons I think why people can't get enough of starbucks korea's product despite the crisis.


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