Case Study: Starbucks Marketing Handcrafts Success With NYC Influencers For Its New Upscale Roastery

starbucks influencers
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Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Starbucks Reserve Brings A Premium Coffee Experience To The Big Apple With Help From NYC Lifestyle Bloggers

Having helped turn specialty coffee into a tempting and permissible daily indulge, Starbucks has become a ubiquitous part of today’s on-the-go, cosmopolitan culture. In 2018, the Seattle-based drink giant generated $24.7 billion dollars in revenue, helping to make it the second most valuable worldwide fast-food brand—exceeded only by McDonald’s.

As the coffee chain market leader, Starbucks not only understands the food and drink industry, it’s also an expert at reaching and communicating with its customers as well. Using influencer marketing as one of its advertising methods, Starbucks has repeatedly created successful marketing campaigns across top social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram using Starbucks influencers.

Starbucks Influencers Savor New Flavors At Exclusive New NYC Reserve Roastery

The specialty coffee market that Starbucks helped to create has become increasingly sophisticated and competitive, with brands like Dunkin’, known traditionally for its donuts, moving into the coffee market. In a bid to satisfy the demands of coffee-drinkers looking for a more artisanal “cup of Joe,” Starbucks launched its own premium brand, Starbucks Reserve, in 2014. Serving hand-crafted drinks within immersive “Roasteries,” Starbucks Reserve has reasserted the Seattle-based company’s dedication to, and innovation within, the coffee marketplace.


Currently, there exists a several-million follower difference between the accounts of Starbucks’ flagship brand and its select offering on Instagram. To help spread the word about a Starbucks Reserve Roastery opening in Chelsea on December 14, 2018, the coffee producer partnered with three New York City bloggers notable for their style and taste to run a successful Starbucks influencer marketing campaign.


starbucks influencers

  • Promote Starbucks Reserve’s fourth global roastery opening in New York City.
  • Introduce people to Starbucks Reserve’s brand and drink offerings.
  • Entice people to visit New York City’s new Starbucks Reserve Roastery.


  • Channels: Instagram, as well as the influencer’s respective blogs
  • Influencers: NYC bloggers and Instagrammers

Preview Of Influencers


starbucks influencers

  • Each of the three Starbucks influencers manages a personal blog with their own unique focus on subjects such as living, style, design, fashion, and travel.
  • All of the bloggers are New York City locals.
  • The majority of images were from within the roastery itself, featuring polished wood, modern furniture, warm lighting and, of course, drinks.
  • Post captions mentioned the uniquely-crafted offerings and special roastery atmosphere.
  • All eight of the sampled posts tagged @StarbucksReserve and included the hashtag #StarbucksReserve, as well as either #ad or #sponsored.


Combined results for eight sampled posts by three different Starbucks influencers:

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 449,400


  • Likes: 29,699
  • Comments: 1,232
  • Engagement rate: 3.42%
  • Hashtag: #StarbucksReserve

Alyssa Lenore (Styled & Smitten)

Alyssa Lenore is a longtime New Yorker who has a special reverence for her Filipino culture. Using social media to connect with people from around the world, Lenore is a go-to resource in categories such as fashion, food, and travel. Publishing long-form content on her blog, Styled & Smitten, Lenore’s personal Instagram account broadcasts out to more than 132,000 followers.

starbucks influencers

Lenore’s Starbucks Reserve post features a cropped picture of the smiling blogger enjoying a latte and chocolate cornetti. Citing the coffee-themed tones of her outfit in the Instagram caption, Lenore also noted that the NYC roastery was “Not your average Starbucks.”

Collecting 2,869 likes and 97 comments, Lenore’s post achieved an engagement rate of 2.25%.

Will Taylor (Bright Bazaar)

With 270,000 followers on Instagram, Will Taylor had the highest follower-count of the sampled Starbucks influencers promoting the new roastery. Taylor started publishing popular style and design blog Bright Bazaar in 2009 where different aspects of the creative consultant’s life and passions intersect.

starbucks influencers

Taylor’s Starbucks Reserve post featured the lifestyle blogger seated at the bar, enjoying a drink in his “best plaid pants.” In his conversational caption, Taylor calls the Reserve roastery “a theatre of coffee,” remarking on its many edible and visual delights.

Amassing 10,160 likes and 495 comments, Taylor’s Instagram post achieved an engagement rate of 3.95%.

Chelsea Henriquez (Chelsea As Of Late)

Chelsea Henriquez, better known to her followers as Chelsea as of Late, is a Latin American New Yorker and blogger who documents her interests and adventures across a range of social media platforms. Style, fashion, and travel are strong features on Chelsea’s Instagram profile, which reaches 47,400 followers. Her blog offers more detailed posts, including reviews, “top” lists, as well as tips and DIY advice.

starbucks influencers

In her Starbucks Reserve post, Chelsea was featured at the bar enjoying a drink against a warm bokeh of the expansive space. In her caption, Chelsea describes being cozy and drinking a unique “Pantheon Blend.”

Chelsea averaged the highest engagement rate among the sampled posts by Starbucks influencers on the Starbucks Reserve influencer marketing campaign. Her post garnered 2,825 likes and 161 comments, resulting in an engagement rate of 6.30%.


  • Collaborating with style influencers who also engage in experiences such as food and travel allowed Starbucks marketing to communicate with a specialized and relevant audience about their premium brand.
  • Partnering with influencers from NYC granted local endorsements of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the city’s Meatpacking District.
  • Bloggers with an active following on social media can produce short-form promotional posts on platforms like Instagram, while also creating longer, more nuanced content on their own blogging websites.