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Marketing: What We Can Learn from Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino


Although we work in the health and fitness industry, that doesn’t mean we can’t take inspiration from non-fitness related businesses when it comes to things like marketing. And just a few days ago, Starbucks showcased a strike of marketing genius with the launch of its Unicorn Frappuccino, sold in stores between April 19th and 23rd.

According to Starbucks, the colorful drink consisted of “pink powder, blended into a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup and layered with a pleasantly sour blue drizzle.” Although the drink was only available for a few days, it spawned thousands of hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, and was seen in droves on platforms like Facebook and Snapchat.

Basically, unless you lived under a rock, you knew the Unicorn Frappuccino was a thing.

I doubt the Unicorn Frappuccino’s success was just luck on Starbucks’ part. There are a variety of reasons why this colorful frap was a stroke of marketing genius, outlined below.

Joseph M. Arseneau / Shutterstock.com

Joseph M. Arseneau / Shutterstock.com

It Was Only Available for a Limited Time

By making the Unicorn Frappuccino only available for a short period of time — in this case a few days — it created a sense of urgency for customers, driving them to act now and buy the drink before it sold out.

It Was Picture Worthy

The colorful drink — with its bright pink and blue colors — lent well to images, meaning it was more likely to be shared on social media by Starbucks customers.

Herd Instinct

And, because so many people were posting images of the drink, this triggered Herd Instinct, “an inclination in people or animals to behave or think like the majority.” The more people shared images of the Unicorn Frappuccino, the more likely others were to join in.

How can you re-create the marketing magic of the Unicorn Frappuccino at your gym? Think of ways you too can use these concepts — limited availability, picture-worthiness and Herd Instinct — to your advantage with things you do at your gym. Who knows, you might be the next trending hashtag on Instagram.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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