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Why a Coffee Became the most Viral Product in History

What is the thing you enjoy receiving more than anything in the world?

Clue, it’s not unboxing that newest tech product, unpacking a beautiful dress or opening the first gift on Christmas morning.

It’s getting anything for free

It could be the smallest trinket from a restaurant as a memento of your visit, a badge for behaving at the dentist or a goody bag for attending an event.

Nothing in the world beats the feeling of getting something for nothing

The adage that ‘nothing in the world is free’ has been replaced by ‘if you’re getting something for free you are the product’ but neither necessarily have to be true in a world where the greatest advertisement of your brand is positive word of mouth interactions between people.

And this is where a store that has been around for nearly a thousand years has dominated

Its not a high tech product or service, in fact it could not be more basic in its simplicity.

It’s a cardboard cup, hot water, ground beans and milk

In the age of Virality Coffee shops rule and every other store and services looks up at them

Two stores have distinctly different approaches to achieving the same thing

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There a reason the baristas constantly spell your name wrong. It is all in the name of novelty and marketing.

We like to call people out on their mistakes, but this is most often in the form of discussions with other people after the event or photos of their mistakes.

‘I was at Starbucks today and you’ll never guess how the barista spelt my name’ or ‘look how Starbucks spelt my name wrong’

By spelling your name wrong Starbucks pushes itself to the front of your mind and gives you material to discuss with your friends and colleagues for the rest of the day.

Furthermore, you get to showcase the physical artifact as evidence.

But there’s more

Next time you buy your coffee from Starbucks, watch where they write your name

Right above the Starbucks Logo

Perfect Product placement — their Viral Marketing Strategy.


Have you ever received your morning coffee for free for no apparent reason?

If you have you can attest to the fact their is no better feeling in the world

You walk in expecting to handover your hard earned cash for your morning essential only to have the barista smile and tell you it’s on the house.

This is Pret-a- mangers viral marketing strategy

And it is Bloody Brilliant

Each member of staff can give a random person a free coffee every day

Everyone I know who’s ever received this perk has told all their friends.

I couldn’t count the amount of times someone has told me first hand of their positive morning experience, and you can multiply that by several orders of magnitude for the amount of times I see it on social media.

You just have to look at this feed to get a sense of the effectiveness of this strategy

This is where Tech lags behind and Restaurants haven’t caught up

Can you imagine going into {insert your favourite fast food restaurant} and upon receiving the bill realising that the meal was complimentary

I realise several fast food chains utilise a loyalty reward scheme, but this is in no way similar. It does not give you the same feeling of serendipitous joy of getting something for free that you were willingly about to pay for.

We will see this change, but first they must discover a means to achieving virality in the form of photographs on social media

The new adage may be ‘If you are getting something for free you are the product’

But when the free product is something you can consume — while being inspired to share your fortune with your friends on social media

I don’t care!

Written by

CEO / Founder / Coach @FirstbaseHQ Empowering people to work in their lives not live at work ✌️✌

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