A Kinder, Gentler Retail: Home Depot and Starbucks

Two retailers recently announced some noteworthy ways to make things a little better for shoppers this year.

First, Starbucks last month made its pumpkin spice latte available earlier than ever, on August 25 — and while cynics might say the announcement is just a ploy to draw in more customers, let’s be honest: isn’t that what retail is?

Specifically, Starbucks is acting on customer data and on conversations they’ve had with their customers, they understand their customers have been locked in their homes for six months, many of their stores have been closed — so why shouldn’t they give their customers access to a popular comfort food a little sooner than expected?

Home Depot made a similarly customer-focused move earlier this month, announcing that instead of the usual Black Friday sale, its Black Friday prices will be available from early November through December, both in store and online.

“Say goodbye to one day of frenzied shopping and enjoy Black Friday savings all season long without the stress and crowds,” the company said in a statement.

Think of both of these examples as a new, kinder, gentler retail — two brands making smart, customer-focused moves that should be celebrated, based on those brands listening to their customers.

From a brand perspective, it just makes sense. You want to attract customers, but there’s nothing to be gained from diving into the usual Black Friday madness mid-pandemic and cheapening your brand by sounding like Crazy Eddie.

Instead, Home Depot essentially said, “We’ve done the analysis, we’re listening to our customers — and we’re going to make this stuff available throughout the season because we know that’s what our customers need right now.”

That’s exactly the kind of relationship you want with your customers — both Home Depot and Starbucks have very loyal customer bases, and they’re both choosing to reward that loyalty by meeting their customers’ unique needs in this unique moment.

So congratulations to both companies for making the right move, and for doing right by their customers. We’ll see how it plays out, but I think it’s safe to say both companies will be rewarded for having done so.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly here with any questions or thoughts, or click here to download our white paper on responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.



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Andy Austin

A geek with a retail operations and customer experience background