Thursday, November 29, 2007

Starbucks Hits the Airwaves

Over at Church of the Customer Blog, Jackie Huba writes about the first television ad campaign by Starbucks. You can see the spots here.

Jackie mentions the slight decline in store visits and asks:

Is that because Starbucks has finally reached a saturation point? Or is it more complicated, the result of a series of decisions that has compromised its roots of authenticity?

She thinks it's the latter, and I think she's right; another factor, however, is plain old competition. With McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts and others moving into the Starbucks space, things are tougher for the coffee giant.

But that said, the experience of going to Starbucks has changed; what used to be a reasonable simulacrum of an actual funky coffeehouse is now a gigantic ad. Walk in, and you're bombarded by CDs, cards, gifts, and employees pushing whatever almost-not-coffee-anymore concoction is the current focus. (No, I would not like an orange pumpkin eggnog macchiato with a shot of corn syrup; I actually like coffee.)

Jackie concludes:

Starbucks is a beloved brand because of the quality of the store experience. Period. End of story. Slurp! It took years for McDonald's to re-learn that.

Well, I'd say it's the predictability of the store experience. The coffee is OK, the atmosphere is OK, but you know just what you will get. They have degraded that experience a bit, though, and I think that's a big part of their problems now.

As for the spots themselves? Well, I can't get past how much they remind me of the segments in South Park when the proprietor of Tweek's Coffee would talk about his own store experience.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I agree totally. I am one that enjoys the coffeehouse "experience." For whatever reason, it makes me feel somehow "cool" or a tad hip (for an old fart)to sit there doing what I'm doing. And whether I"m grading papers from my college class or doing after-hours work for my day job, it does help me to focus to get into a different environment with fewer distractions than home.

Starbucks somehow feels less inviting these days; part of it is the heavy promotion referred to in the original post. I also think in their newer outlets (perhaps you've noticed they've added a few) there seems to be less attention to "coziness" and atmosphere. I"m not sure I'd notice if you served me gas station coffee in a Starbucks cup. But I DO know I don't want to sit and work in a gas station.