Today Starbucks, in a partnership with Yahoo!, goes live with its new Starbucks Digital Network, giving customers access to a large library of content via the chain’s free Wi-Fi service. Now Starbucks patrons, already notorious for wiling away the time on their laptops and iPads while enjoying a super-caffeinated beverage, can enjoy digital versions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Rodale publications such as Men’s and Women’s Health, as well as community updates, all absolutely free of charge (that is, as long as you’ve ordered something).
Props to Starbucks for recognizing the core strengths of their brand and enhancing them by giving customers new, enticing incentives to stick around the store and order another latte. The coffee chain’s reputation as a comfortable and attractive venue for reading, meeting with friends, or doing business will only improve now that it is offering up high-quality content with no extra price-tag attached.
Starbucks, which used to charge a premium for access to Wi-Fi, is realizing that American consumers don’t just appreciate this kind of service, but that they expect it. In a recent survey, 66 percent of respondents said that free Wi-Fi services influenced their choice of venue; only 5 percent said it would have no impact at all. Another consumer survey by JD Power and Associates discovered that free Wi-Fi was the number one most desired hotel amenity.
As digital mediums take a more prominent role in our lives, we need comfortable places where we can have easy access to quality content, and Starbucks is now providing exactly that service. And the content in the Starbucks Digital Network is not limited to digitized versions of popular publications. For example, an iTunes feature includes access to a selection of music, e-books, and movies, as well as a kid-friendly Nick Jr. channel.
Even more importantly, Starbucks has created a customized channel for the local communities where its chain stores operate, so that customers who log-in to the Digital Network can read local news, find reviews of area restaurants, and discover opportunities for helping local classroom projects courtesy of DonorsChoose.org.
Starbucks has gone beyond the free Wi-Fi services offered by other cafes and coffee retailers, and has created a multimedia suite of nourishing content to keep customers happy, seated, and plugged in. Just don’t spill your latte on your new iPad.