Starbucks’ Winning Strategy for Seasonal Sales

Like many other retailers, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) aims to be an iconic retailer of the holiday season. CEO Howard Schultz recognizes the opportunity that the last quarter holds and starts surveying customers and planning nearly a year in advance in order to properly deck the halls.

The coffee house wants to be one of the first places you think of when you’re trying to buy gifts. The company offers a variety of gift card designs, mugs, a holiday compilation CD and a holiday coffee blend that would appeal to even the most persnickety person on your shopping list. During the 2010 holiday season Starbucks averaged 42 gift cards sold every second.

Many anticipate the seasonal availability of Starbuck’s (NASDAQ:SBUX) trademark Christmas blend coffee each year.  The blend is tweaked annually and expert coffee tasters dedicate three months each year to perfecting the seasonal offering.  The company also has a variety of other coffee drinks with seasonal flavors such as the pumpkin latte and peppermint mocha.

And the special red cup that houses Starbuck’s yummy beverages has become another signature sign of the holiday season. Tom Ryan, spokesman for International Paper (NYSE:IP) who manufactures the cups said, “We are responsible for delivering perhaps the most visible element of Starbucks’s holiday message each year, which is an effort our entire team at International Paper takes a great deal of pride and ownership in,” per Bloomberg Businessweek.