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::cough:: DESPERATE ::cough::

Over at Brand Autopsy they're talking about the new Starbucks television ads.

This past year Starbucks has noticed for the first time in a long time that they are stagnant or losing customers.

I got to thinking about it and I'm one of the customers they're losing...

Starbucks has been my vice for a few years now but as of late I've found a new flame. For my buddy Howard Shultz and his research team I contribute the following:

1. You're losing me for health reasons. For a period of time I tried everything I could to enjoy my Starbucks in a healthy way but honestly it's not a strength of the brand. Entice me in with something that tastes good but is also good for me. This is a small reason... but the real reason is...

2. You're losing me to my local coffee house. Unfortunately you've spoiled me. I love the Starbucks experience. But what is that experience? Well, it's my local coffee shop. It's not like the old ones in my area. My local shop has learned a lot of lessons which make Starbucks great but they go one step further... they're local. They hand press their espresso and educate their customers. They have a consistent team of staff who say "the usual?" before I even get to the register. My local shop is owned by someone about my age who is there about 1/3 of the time I visit. You know what else? They give me wifi. They get my business because their environment welcomes me and says "Stay a while. Heck, you can work from here if you want." You know what else my local coffee shop does? They have art shows. They rotate a new artist every 7-14 days. This means that the environment is stable but also has a state of change to it. The art provides conversation for previously perfect strangers. Ohh, Mr. Shultz... They give me a mug. I know this isn't something you can do for the 3,000 customers an hour per store... but my local shop can. So imagine how I feel when I have learned so much from you and your company. I've learned that $4 can buy me an experience. Now I see so much more of an experience right here in my own neighborhood coffee shop. This ties into my new vibe of you...

3. You've gone too Corporate. I'm bombarded with overpriced items, I'm seeing Starbucks move into the music business, with your growth the baristas seem to be much more rushed and the variety seems to be gone among the stores. It's just feeling a little too programmed. Don't get me wrong I love the quality... it's just that for my $4 there is a local joint that's beating you at your own game. They do what you do but better. Additionally they care. Show me that it's not all about the money.

Suggestions:

1. Spring a few bucks for wifi and let me on for free with purchase.
2. Provide seating that welcomes me.
3. Let your designers make the shops more unique.
4. Focus the consistency on the brand and the coffee as you relax the design of each location.
5. Offer some in-house mugs that don't cost me $30.
6. Don't get desperate. If you show that you're going out of your element just to win me over it will look like a girlfriend who can't take the hint. That's just sad. I don't want to view you that way... work on the fundamentals and see how you can be more local... I'm not always near my local coffee shop.

LINK: Bean There Cafe on myspace

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Sunday, November 18, 2007

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