I’m not a fan of Starbucks. In general, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Siren Image, I think of a big chain trying to smash smaller coffee houses. That being said, for this commentary, I will try to keep my preconceived opinions to a minimum and report some of the interesting facts I’ve observed about this coffee giant in the recent past.
First, some context.
Starbucks has always presented one major pro to me, and one major con.
Pro: No matter where you go, Starbucks makes their product the same. Like it or not, it’s the same coffee, same barista training, same (or very similar) automatic espresso machines that pull the same shots the same way every time. I’ve had Starbucks in Virginia, California, and here in Idaho- and trust me, they’re exactly the same (I have yet to try them overseas, but I don’t doubt I would report the same thing.)
Key word: same.
Con: Unlike many local coffeehouses, the product Starbucks has to offer is sub-par with few exceptions. Layman’s terms: their coffee really isn’t completely and utterly fantastic. Many coffee snobs may disagree with me on this- but I think we could find a common ground:
In the grand scheme of things, even the lightest of Starbucks’ blends tastes dark in comparison to, say, a freshly roasted medium blend from Dawson’s. The common coffee drinker may say it tastes “burnt” or “over-roasted.” Although there are people who like this dark taste, it’s clear that Starbucks does one product, and they do it the same every time. They may put a different label on it, make the bag red for Christmas, and put some flavor in it, but each of their coffees is essentially the same: dark.
Key word: same.
Starbucks has found their niche market, and if I had to distill it into one word I would say this: travelers. Whether it be business people who fly cross-state as part of their job, or merely someone making their commute to work in the morning, Starbucks is an ideal choice for men and women on the go. People who are on their way somewhere or late for something (say, a very important date) need something quick, easy, and dependable. Starbucks offers all three, and at a price people will pay. I don’t particularly like their coffee, but I do think their business model is brilliant.
And with that lead in, I’m now going to explore an observation I’ve been making for the last few weeks.
It appears to me that Starbucks is beginning to look further than their current niche market.
I think they’re actually trying to become your friendly neighborhood coffeehouse.
Taken from a handout I received at my local Starbucks:
Introducing My Starbucks Rewards, a new program that rewards you the more you come in.
Free drinks. Free syrups. Free soymilk. Free Wi-Fi. And best of all, free to join.
All you have to do is register your Starbucks Card, use it to pay for coffee and treats, and watch your rewards grow.
You’ll soon be hearing, “This one’s on the house.”
Ready? Right this way…(link added)
The pamphlet goes on to explain how each time you go in to a Starbucks, order a drink, and swipe your card, you get one “Star”. Five Stars gets you to the Green Level (2 hours free Wi-Fi, Free refills on brewed coffee, etc.) 30 Stars get’s you to the Gold Level (Same rewards as Green Level+Personalized card & Welcome packet, free drink every 15 additional Stars.)
That’s right folks, Starbucks has a punch card now. They’re like your friend with benefits (ok, bad analogy…)
So what’s so special about a big name corporation getting what Dutch Bros. or Moxie Java has had since the 6th Century? It shows that they’re adapting. They’re looking to make life easier for you. Heck, it’s cool that they’re thinking about you, the customer, at all!
That, in my book, speaks loads about the head honchos of Starbucks. They’re thinking outside the box, trying to bring new people into their stores, and changing up their game plan to do so. Adaptability is a great skill in the coffee biz, and that’s compounded the bigger the business is. It’ll be interesting to see how this adaption will affect the sales of Starbucks.
Now…if only they’d adapt their product and make it taste good!* 😉
What are your thoughts about Starbucks getting its mojo back? Will you participate? Comment and let me know!