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.)
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.