I remember when I first interviewed with the three Quest founders to join as the head of marketing. I laid out a plan to earn their first million fans, and explained that, to do it, the company would need to create a content studio. They thought I was joking.
Back in 2011, a branded content studio was a pretty crazy idea, especially to three guys who just put their houses on the line to bootstrap a protein bar company. A content studio? To sell protein bars?
Who do you think has the top mobile payment app in the US?
Apple? Google? Maybe Samsung?
None of the above.
Of the 55 million Americans who used a mobile payment app this year, more than 40% will have done it on the Starbucks app.
It’s an amazing example of how a strong brand can drive technology adoption and new behaviors. Loyalty rewards, innovation and convenience brought the coffee shop into a technology leadership position.
But it’s not a strategy that can be readily copied.
Instead, it showshow far behind the US is in mobile payments. Starbucks’ brief dominance will be an interesting footnote in the march toward mobile payments as the shopping experience in the US is revolutionized. While the US struggles with chip credit card readers, we can see what that future looks like by looking into the crystal ball that is China.