8/15/07

Starbucks Experience

I got up early and did some reading. I got a craving for an iced decaf Café Mocha with four iced cubes (no whipped Cream) and a piece of banana loaf, so I packed up my books and my notepad and drove over to a nearby Starbucks. I had to stand in a line for a couple of minutes, no problem, the Bob Dylan song they were playing got me through that. I decided to sit there for awhile and just people watch. It was a fascinating slice of American culture 2007, I think this probably replaces sitting around at the old country store or the neighborhood diner. I got there at 7:30, obviously peak going to work time. Line out the door, no problem for people to queue up to pay $3.50 to $4.50 for a cup of coffee (By the way Garrison Keillor does not call it Starbucks, he calls it ten bucks for that reason). There were several groups sitting around meeting – A Christian men’s business group reading the bible – probably praying for the next dollar. A group of elementary school teacher’s getting ready for their first week of school and a couple of old geezers talking about how Hilary would lead the county to ruin.

I could not help but think of an interview I saw with Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, on CSPAN earlier in the year. His statement was: “It is not about the coffee, it is about the experience.” He has certainly created an experience as evidenced by what I see every time I go to Starbucks. They have great service, employees who seem to care about the customer. The guy making my mocha today apologized because he put six ice cubes in the mocha, not four. Come on, but he was genuine. Next time you have a spare twenty minutes go to a Starbucks and see what I mean. This past eighteen months I have had the same experience in Edinburgh, London and Brisbane.

A note: In the interest of full disclosure I am a Starbucks stockholder. I bought the stock this past year because of my experiences at Starbucks. I felt that anyone that that did business like this had to succeed.

4 Comments:

At 8/15/07, 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vern,

Just to help you with the diversity of your readers - I live every bit of 45-50 minutes from the nearest area that I would look for a StarBucks. I did see 1 person drinking coffee this morning - the name "Poor Bob's Deli" was on the side of the cup. Probably not the kind of place you would buy stock in.

Mark Day

 
At 8/15/07, 2:21 PM, Anonymous tlanger said...

Ironically the experience is usually better than the coffee! I was a Dunkin Donuts guy for years, but switched to Starbucks a few years back when moving out west...the experiment didn't last too long, because the coffee always tasted burnt and I became a Peet's guy...who is actually owned by Starbucks; go figure. It's a good thing you can buy high grade coffee beans for the house!

Please, see the news story below...it's pretty interesting how perception often outweighs everything else....

-----------------------------------
McDonald's Beats Starbucks In Coffee Taste Test

They may be unlikely competitors, but McDonald's is giving Starbucks a run for its money when it comes to coffee.

According to a report published in Consumer Reports magazine, McDonald's serves up a better cup of joe than the mega coffee chain.

Testers compared a medium cup of black coffee from McDonald's, Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks. They found the best cup of java under the golden arches.

The magazine said McDonald's coffee was "decent and moderately strong" while the coffee from Starbucks "was strong, but burnt."

 
At 8/15/07, 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vern,

As you noted, "its not about the coffee." So, in our field what would we say? People go to Starbucks to connect over that cup of coffee, not because of it. What are athletes wanting when they come to work with us? "It's not about the ... machines, facilities, juice bar, HD tv's. Its about the experience." What do athletes and coaches experience when they work with me? What are the elements along with results that are important to them? "Experience" can be a manipulative marketing ploy. It can also be authentic when it's about the things that really matter to both parties. I heard the Starbucks guy in the same interview and part of what we was out to do was create the same sense of community he experienced in the neighborhood coffee shops in Italy. He wanted that for his customers. What are we wanting for out athletes in our work together? Let's build on that.

T Clark

 
At 8/15/07, 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coffee: pure poison to our digestive tract and the junk they put in it with a piece of plastic cake or cookie. The real money is the $2.00 bottle of tap water that is toxic to the earth.

My friend from over seas asked, why do people in the US run around in the A.M holding cups filled with coffee or some type of juice, dressed in workout clothes?

 

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