Starbucks' Halo is Making Life Hell for Unions

Onstrike_1 Starbucks Gossip points to an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal on how unions aren't giving up on trying to organize baristas.  One tactic has been to challenge Starbucks' reputation for corporate responsibility.  But like instant coffee, no one's buying it.   

Denise Lee Yohn, a brand marketer based in San Diego believes that

The company's efforts to appear socially responsible, from selling fair-trade coffee, helping run a coffee-bean farmer support center in Costa Rica and making cups with recycled paper, will probably trump [union charges of unfairness], Ms. Yohn says. "They have enough good stuff that kind of causes this halo effect over everything else, so they probably don't need to take it as seriously as a Wal-Mart," she says.

Starbucks is boosting its reputation here in Boston by supporting Jumpstart.  For every Leprechaun Latte sold Starbucks is donating 25 cents to the local nonprofit.  The Starbucks in the South End is even participating in BMC's upcoming shop walk and offering walkers a free latte.

Companies often question the bottom-line benefit of cause marketing, dismissing it as "branding" (i.e. nice but not necessary).  But just like any good marketing initiative, cause marketing helps a company make and save money.  Starbucks' solid reputation for corporate responsibility is one reason why baristas keep pouring for seven bucks an hour, consumers keep ordering three dollar lattes and union officials buy their coffee somewhere else.

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