How Starbucks Generates 7X More Engagement on TikTok than Red Bull

TikTok
Content & Messaging
Brand & Positioning Strategy
January 1, 2021
Food & Beverage

Key Takeaways

Focus Allocation — TikTok: In both US and Canada, TikTok has recently seen massive growth, with a +309% YoY increase in MAU for the month of January (2020 vs 2021). TikTok users are turning to the app for content about hangover cures, with the most popular hashtag (#hangovercure) generating over 41 billion views globally. 

Whitespace Opportunity: 

  • There is currently a white space opportunity as there are only four major brands (Biosteel, Liquid I.V., Key Nutrients, and The Good Patch) that have accounts on the platform and none of the accounts has a significant following. Even Biosteel, the most followed account, has under 10k followers.
  • The success of beverage brands like Starbucks, Bang Energy, and Red Bull signifies that there is a demand and interest in beverage-based content and accounts
  • Four out of the top 10 beverage brands on TikTok are energy drinks, with Red Bull having over 5M followers

TikTok Tactic — Timely & Relevant Content: TikTok trends live and die overnight, what is popular today may be entirely different tomorrow. Keep up to date on popular hashtags in the industry and create timely and relevant content. Try to jump on trends within hours of them becoming popular. The great thing about TikTok is that content doesn’t have to be polished or professionally shot, many brands simply create content on their mobile devices with minimal editing. Current popular content categories for “hangover cures” on TikTok include:

  • Drink Cure Recipes: users sharing drink recipes that they claim will cure hangovers.
  • Greasy Food Sharing/Recipes: users sharing food they eat on hangover days or that will cure hangovers; these are generally greasy, heavy meals involving bacon, cheese, bread, etc.
  • Hangover Day: humorous videos of users as they go through their day dealing with a hangover.

TikTok Tactic — Be Focused and Consistent: Although Starbucks has fewer followers than Red Bull (5M vs 1M), it has a significantly higher engagement rate on the platform than Red Bull (roughly 7x the engagement rate). This is largely due to the fact that they focus on quality content, with specified content buckets rather than trying to push out as many videos as possible (quality over quantity). Starbucks’ TikTok content falls into the following buckets:

  • Drink Recipes: A trend on TikTok is to create aesthetically pleasing videos of people mixing various drinks. The main focus is on the visuals rather than the actual recipe as the majority of these videos do not actually state the exact recipe or ingredients. 
  • Morning Recover: Starbucks creates videos that highlight how coffee puts the “good” in good morning. They emphasize how a cup of Starbucks helps people feel more awake and have a positive attitude for the rest of the day. 
  • Humour: Starbucks adds an element of humour to their top-performing posts that poke fun at various situations. Adding text on top of the video helps further tell a story as some TikTok users may not read captions. 

Coincidentally, these content buckets also align with popular “hangover cure” content (i.e. drink recipes, recovery recipes, and humour-based videos).

In North America, TikTok has recently seen massive growth, with a +309% YoY increase in Monthly Active Users (MAU) in January 2021.

Monthly Active Users

TikTok users are turning to the app for hangover cures, with the most popular hashtag, #hangovercure, generating over 41 billion views globally.

Number of Views

Top content categories for hangover cures on TikTok include:

Drink “Cures”

Videos of users sharing their various “hangover cure” drinks; recipes range from actual recipes (i.e. smoothies, infused drinks, using electrolytes, etc.) to “mock cures” such as more alcoholic drink recipes.

Greasy Food Sharing

Users use the #hangovercure hashtag to share videos of the greasy/heavy foods they eat the day of their hangover; some also provide recipes for their favourite hangover meals.

Hangover Day

Videos, generally humour-based, of users recapping their day of dealing with a hangover.

@casandrasuarez_

I didn’t sign up for these 2-3 day hangovers #old #hungover #help #hangovercure

♬ Spongebob - Dante9k

There is currently a large whitespace opportunity on TikTok for the hangover cure companies. Only 4 brands have accounts with a following and the top account, Biosteel, has only 9K followers.

Outside of the hangover beverage industry, the Top 10 TikTok beverage brands have a significantly higher audience size, with an average follower base of 865K.

40% of the Top 10 beverage brands on TikTok are energy drinks, with Red Bull taking the lead with 5M followers.

Diving into the top 3 beverage brands, although Red Bull has roughly 5x more followers, Starbucks has about a 7x higher engagement rate and significantly more video views.

In terms of content strategy, Red Bull and Bang Energy aim to post high volumes of videos while Starbucks focuses on quality.

The top 3 content themes for Starbucks are:

Top Three Content themes

Top performing drink recipe videos include ASMR*, close-up action shots, and focus more on the visual aspects of the video rather than the recipe itself.

Drink Recipes

A trend on TikTok is to create aesthetically pleasing videos of people mixing various drinks. The main focus is on the visuals rather than the actual recipe as the majority of these videos do not actually state the exact recipe or ingredients. There are various TikTok channels that have gained a significant following from their drink recipe videos such as onii_tan and drink620.

Best Practices:

  • Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): Top drink recipe channels on TikTok include ASMR as part of the video. ASMR videos increase the volume of each sound (e.g., the sound of ice cubes hitting the glass) to trigger a sensory response. 
  • Close-Up Action Shots: The main focus of the video is to show how the various ingredients mix with each other and change in color (e.g., milk mixing with coffee). This presents an opportunity for powdered sticks to show how they mix with water.

Morning Recovery

Starbucks works with influencers to create videos that showcase how a cup of coffee helps put them in a good mood in the morning. The brand creates videos that highlight how coffee puts the “good” in good morning. They emphasize how a cup of Starbucks helps people feel more awake and have a positive attitude for the rest of the day.

Best Practices:

  • Testimonials: Starbucks worked with influencers to show how Starbucks helps improve their morning routine, which provides social proof. Consumers are more likely to be persuaded by messaging that comes from an influencer rather than from a brand
  • Repost UGC (user-generated content) and work with micro-influencers: Many TikTok creators with a small following have viral videos due to their algorithm which does not factor in the number of followers to appear in someone’s “For You” page.
  • TIkTok Duet Videos are a great way to collaborate with well-known creators without having to pay for sponsored content.
@starbucks

You make our Mondays better too, @annaxsitar . ☕️☀️💚 #Starbucks #StarbucksDrinks

♬ original sound - anna x

Humour

Starbucks adds an element of humour to their top-performing posts that poke fun at various situations. Adding text on top of the video helps further tell a story as some TikTok users may not read the caption for every video.

Best Practices:

  • Minimal Editing: Humorous videos perform best when they are organic. TikTok videos do not have to be polished or professionally shot, many brands simply create content on their mobile device.
  • Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Tiktok: TikTok trends live and die overnight. What is popular today may be entirely different tomorrow. It’s extremely crucial to have your finger on the pulse to act fast on various TikTok trends.
@starbucks

We got you! Drop your questions about making coffee at home. 👇☕ @kah_blau #Starbucks #CoffeeAtHome #StarbucksAtHome

♬ original sound - Hail


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