Why Starbucks sells bananas (and why your startup should)

26th Oct 2011
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Bananas at StarbucksIf you’ve been to any North American Starbucks Coffee shop, you would have noticed that they’ve got bananas. Is Starbucks stupid to sell bananas at a dollar each when you can buy 5 for a dollar at the grocer next door? Why is Starbucks even selling bananas?

Starbucks rarely has more than a dozen bananas on display or available for purchase most times. I have never seen anyone actually purchase bananas at Starbucks. Now, Starbucks is a smart company and would not place a bunch of bananas in prime retail space (on the top of the shelf, near the checkout counter) if there wasn’t some benefit.

Bananas as a prop

I can bet this is a branding ploy. Earlier this year, Starbucks Coffee changed its name to Starbucks and started adding new salads and sandwiches to their menu of skinny lattes and americanos. I believe the banana’s are nothing more than a prop (I’m sure they are real). The purpose they serve is to help establish Starbucks’ food as natural and wholesome.

Banana branding

From this lens, it’s easy to see why the bananas, an SKU that would not bring in more than $20 a day, would receive such a prime spot on the counter. Just like the little posters and marketing material all over Starbucks that don’t sell, but help build the brand. Plus, the bananas are usable (in the slew of smoothies that Starbucks serves) and hence, this prop pays for itself.


Starbucks

Your startup needs bananasIn a startup, your resources are limited and your share of voice is tiny. To build your brand and carve out your niche, you must rely on your bananas - the stuff that is:

  • Congruent with your brand’s story
  • Has a clear story of its own that users recognize
  • Costs nothing or requires a low cost barter

Oh, and btw, this idea is nothing new. It’s loosely referred to as co-branding

About the Author

Luke Sequeira is a Digital Marketing Strategist based inToronto. He is also involved in a few startups. He is originally from Goa /Bombay. He loves Android and dinosaurs.

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