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The New Retail Networks

Starbucks_musicOn the heels of Starbucks' declaration that they are, in fact, a network, comes a similar announcement by Starwood prexy Steve Heyer. By defining a distinct brand persona for each of its nine hotel chains -- for example, W is a "flirty escape for hip insiders" -- Heyer plans to reach out to media companies, telecommunications firms, apparel lines and other businesses to help each of Starwood's nine hotel brands stand out from competitors.

He has already targeted urban "central social districts" for Starwood's new "aloft hotel" brand (earlier dubbed "XYZ"), whose own brand persona is reportedly about delivering a "sassy, refreshing oasis" (which might sound oddly familiar to his old Coke associates). In the months ahead, look for traditional tie-ins with companies like Victoria's Secret, as well as less traditional digital downloads from Time Warner's family of media products in your next hotel room.

Link: Transcript of Starbucks annual investor conference

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