Starbucks may not do a ton of TV advertising (although it is increasing), but this brand is not above a good marketing ploy. In my opinion, a marketing ploy is exactly what the release of their new secret menu Unicorn Frappuccino is. Starbucks secret menu (starbuckssecretmenu.net) is a place for Starbucks fanatics to go for additional drink inspiration and ideas. You can indeed order these drinks in stores even though they are not listed on the menu boards. You simply have to specify the syrup additions/drink ingredient modifications to the barista and voila, you have ordered a secret menu item. This is because all secret menu drinks are merely modifications of the standard drinks that Starbucks serves.
This is not Starbucks’ first rodeo at releasing secret menu items. The brand released the Pokemon Go Frappuccino last December and the Frappula Frappuccino around Halloween. The Unicorn Frappuccino has been made available to the general public in select stores across the US and Canada this week beginning on April 19. As a Starbucks fanatic myself, I immediately ran to the nearest Starbucks to try one of these drinks out myself.
The beverage is pink with a blue drizzle and whipped cream. I was hoping it was simply going to be a colored vanilla milkshake, but that could not have been farther from the truth. According to a company release, the frap “is made with a sweet dusting of pink powder, blended into a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup and layered with a pleasantly sour blue drizzle…It is finished with vanilla whipped cream and a sprinkle of sweet pink and sour blue powder topping.” To me personally, the drink tasted like Fruity Pebbles and Sweet Tarts had a baby.
While many are judging the Unicorn Frappuccino’s success upon how consumers think the drink tastes, I am judging the Unicorn Frappuccino based upon its word of mouth marketing impact. The Unicorn Frappuccino has been turning millennial heads for the entire week, and many like myself were dying to get to their local Starbucks to try the drink. This has nothing to do with the fact that we are truly excited to drink a new flavor of Frappuccino. The fact of the matter is that mythical creatures are in. Millennials have seen a resurgence of Japanese laced culture (cat items, Pokemon, anime), and the unicorn Frappuccino falls within this category. Starbucks won with my purchase of the frap because I have probably only purchased 2 Starbucks fraps in my entire life. The only reason I made a second visit to the store today was because the Unicorn Frappuccino is all of the rage, so I had to see what it was about.
I posted an Instagram of me and my Unicorn Frappuccino and immediately received over 5 inquiries from friends via text and on the platform about how it tasted. There was also a heavily utilized Unicorn Frappuccino Snapchat filter. Lastly, people in the store and on the streets on our walk back asked about what the drink was. One girl responded that it was “so cool.”
All in all, I give Starbucks a 10/10 on their millennial marketing ploy, and a 2/10 on the taste. Starbucks, you win- the millennials are hooked!