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What I Learned When I Bought a Starbuck Indivisible Wristband

Since November 1, 2011 Starbucks has been doing its best to help boost the economy via a cause marketing standard; the wristband.

'Indivisible' wristbands are $5 at 6,800 company-operated stores in the United States.

All the money goes to the Opportunity Finance Network, an umbrella group of 180 Community Development Financial Institutions, which specialize in making loans to small businesses. Starbucks seeded the effort with a $5 million donation.

Studies suggest that new businesses in particular are the ones most likely to generate jobs.

(Parenthetically, another company that started small and grew big, the Boston Beer Company, which makes Samuel Adams beer, has offered a small business mentorship and financing effort called Brewing the American Dream since June 2008).

Since all this has been well-covered elsewhere in great depth, I want to describe the exemplary way the transaction took place when I bought mine late 2011 at a nearby Starbucks.

The wristbands at my Starbucks were displayed on a shelf below the cash register. The barrista was super friendly. She took my order and I told her that I wanted to buy the bracelet.

“Oh, that’s so great! This is such a great idea,” she said as she reached for the wristband.

“Do you know what it’s all about?," she asked.

I did, but I let her go on.

“We’re working to help the economy recover and put people back to work.” And with that she reached and grabbed for the explanatory brochure at the left.

I didn’t open it then. But inside the brochure is an infographic worthy of an Al Gore presentation.

I handed her my credit card and she said, “Thanks for doing this.”

She was so unrelentingly cheerful and good-humored that I really felt thanked.

Plainly she had been trained well enough to understand and explain the effort as well as get behind it. It won’t be that way with every barrista at every Starbucks. But it was with this Starbucks and this barrista.

And that, my friends, is how a cause marketed paper icon or a premium items like a stuffed animal or even a wristband ought to be sold.


Michael Liebowitz said…
Thanks for writing about this. I ran out to my local Starbucks (being in NYC, there were plenty of choices) and bought a bracelet. While I didn't have the experience you described, I was impressed by the explanatory material available. But I was wondering what Starbucks is doing to promote this. Perhaps in-store signage is enough, considering the amount of traffic Starbucks gets. However, I'm not a regular Starbucks drinker. The only way I knew about this program was through various Cause Marketing websites. Do you think they should being doing more to get the word out there?

Also, I was wondering if you knew how the program was going since it launched.
Thanks for your comments Michael.

So far as I know, they've only activated this via PR, and in-store. I haven't seen any tally of how the campaign is doing overall.

Like you, I think they'd be well served by some advertising.

But I did see an TV ad from Samuel Adams for their effort on behalf of small businesses.

Thanks, again!
Nice article!
As a regular Starbucks customer, I heard about the wristband through an email promotion. I headed to the nearest store on the date the bracelets went on sale and experienced a similar enthusiastic response from the barista. It would be nice if the company posted updates at the stores - especially near the bracelet display. Even something as simple as "$X million raised so far - That's aroudn XXX new jobs!" would be informative and keep up the momentum.
Hi Christine:

I agree wholeheartedly.

One thing I didn't raise in my post is that Starbucks is limiting in-store donations to $299.99.

I find that disappointing and a little perplexing. Why limit it by anything except time?

What do you think?

Thanks for your comments.

Warm regards,

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