Why would Google offer free wifi at Starbucks?

Starbucks wifiGoogle and Starbucks are teaming up to offer free wifi at 7,000 coffee shops across the US and the move is brilliant. Starbucks offers excellent segmentation for Google as its customers are younger, trendier and willing to spend ridiculous sums on coffee. This move is similar to Google’s announcement last week that they’d be providing free wifi to San Francisco’s parks, also an excellent segmentation choice.

Granted, the parks offering isn’t the first, as New York City offers the same thing, but with the Starbucks rollout, Google is showing their cards on what’s next…wifi marketing. Offering free wifi has several significant benefits for Google beyond the fantastic brand awareness (not like they need that):

  • Bringing people to the wifi network: Rather than having to offer wifi everywhere, which is costly and inefficient, offering free connections at popular establishments like Starbucks brings people to the network…and the right kind of people for marketing
  • Captive audience: Since the network is only available at that location, the audience for the service is captive and likely to be focused on using the service as long as they’re at the establishment. Advertisers love (actually, adore) a captive audience.
  • Customer loyalty: Getting a service, especially a high-quality experience, is enormous for brand-building and loyalty. Google can focus their efforts on those locations and achieve more than offering wide-spread services. Focus.
  • Segmentation: It’s already been said, but the market segmentation of coffee shop (and other higher-end business) patrons is excellent
  • Advertising: Duh.

Wifi marketing isn’t a new idea, but hasn’t been embraced until now by the big content providers, who have the most to gain from offering a great experience to the right customers. It will be interesting to see who else sees this opportunity.


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Categories: Marketing

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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One Comment on “Why would Google offer free wifi at Starbucks?”

  1. July 31, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I agree with your analysis why Google goes to Starbucks. With an elite audience, Google can even test its predictive search features and targeted ads. An absolute win-win tie-up.

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