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SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2016
 
  
Starbucks has been in decline for some time now. For one, they may have over-saturated the market and demand for their coffee, but they're also now stuck in what seems to me, a rock and hard place. Starbucks has, by coffee snobs, always been considered the fast-food of coffee places. But since McDonalds has started serving espresso drinks, particularly lattes, at McDonalds prices - and advertising it as "unsnobby" coffee - Starbucks is losing whatever image it used to have. It is not the "snobby" coffee, and it McDonalds is trying to eat into it's snobby-conscious customers.

I've never had a McDonald's latte, despite the numerous free coffee coupons I've received, and the free-coffee Fridays they've had in Seattle, in the mornings. McDonalds, after all, has an image problem itself - particularly the image I have of a McLatte is one of a steamy cup of brown liquid that tastes like their fries. But this is not about McDonalds improving its image. In fact, it's not even about Starbucks improving its image. It's about Starbucks accepting its image and rolling with it.

First off, Starbucks should just flat out make fun of McDonalds for even attempting to espresso. One ad they could run with:

"Coffee for those who don't want fries with that."

Another idea:

"Coffee for those who aren't looking to supersize."

Target McDs customers as people who don't know coffee. Coffee is very much an image, starting right in high school, with wanna-be adult high school girls walking into class 5 minutes late with their traveller mugs. It carries on through college where hours are spent in coffee shops, discussing class, studying, or just listening to the crowd of pseudo-intellectuals who are there to talk philosophy and politics, and loud enough for you to hear how smart they are. It's there when you're a yuppie - the coffee shop you stop at quickly in the morning on your way to work, and where you end up after work. McDonalds does not fit this at all, and Starbucks should note this. Who ever said being snobby about coffee is a bad thing? Which gives me an idea for a third ad:

"Snobby coffee served here. Sorry, no snobby hamburgers." (A not so subtle hint that not only is McD's coffee unsnobby...)

As I said, coffee is an image. Starbucks should make McDonald's coffee an image people would not want to have.

After that, Starbucks needs to address the "not-snobby-enough" image. Starbucks should adopt the image of the fast-food coffee-shop place (and do it before McDonalds does). For one, Starbucks may have a hard time competing with local, non-franchised, coffee shops that have a very established reputation. Particularly with those around university districts. It may not even always be able to compete with the local franchise - at least in terms of image. So the solution is simple. Don't compete with them. Become the reliable choice. Promote the fact that a Starbucks latte is the same whether you're in Seattle where they started, New York, Toronto, Rio de Jenario, Paris, Rome, or London. The coffee you can count on. With that, I have another idea for an ad, as I also start to wonder if I chose the right career path for myself. Target a bunch of different customer-types, each featuring a modified "Different ________, same coffee."

Shot of a guy in business suit, rolling suit-case, talking on his cellphone. Voice over: "I travel a lot. Monday I'm in LA. Tuesday, I fly to Chicago. Wednesday, it's Detroit. Thursday, I head back west to Colorado. Friday, I'm in New York."
Shot of the guy, walking to his gate, and stopping at Starbucks.
Shot morphs to guy driving a car, with his kids in the back seat. "Vacation? That means a drive down to Florida."
Shot of guy going throguh Starbucks drive through.
"when you're constantly on the move, reliability matters. Reliable watch, reliable laptop. Reliable phone, reliable car, even reliable pens. But most important of all, is that unreliable moment when I can relax. I make it reliable with my Venti-triple soy-macchiato with hazelnut, from Starbucks. Different cities, same coffee."

Another one:

Shot of guy in a straight jacket: "I'm constantly a different person. Monday I'm a doctor..."
Shot of guy as he suspiciously holds a scalpel. "Tuesday I'm a lawyer. Wednesday I'm a police officer. Thursday I'm a politician. Friday, I'm in your house."
Shot of guy going through mail. "When you're as crazy as me, reliability matters. Reliable rope, reliable, skeleton keys, reliable costumes. But most important, is my Extra-hot Grande Chai-Latte with whip, from Starbucks. Different personalities, same coffee."

The fact is, there is a reason why Starbucks was popular, and is still popular. People do like to try new things, but they also come back to what they know... Moreover, people like to personalize. That's what Starbucks has done. Before Starbucks you'd go into a coffee shop and order a latte, an espresso, a cappucino, etc. The standard drinks. Starbucks changed that, and that's another thing they should focus on. My final ad:

Shots of people in a long line, smiles on their faces. Starts with the person who's at the counter giving his order. "Venti Americano." Camera slides to person behind him who is thinking "Grande No-Foam Soy Latte". Camera slides to the person behind him, who is thinking "Tall bold Cafe misto with light whip." Camera keeps moving down the line showing each person thinking of their ridiculously personalized drink. The pace of the whole thing accelerates and accelerates. Then quick fade to White. Black text fades in: "Your coffee." Starbucks logo fades in underneath. Then quick cut to guy who walks in through the doors thinking "Latte, no fries."
SAMAEL

SAMAEL

One of the main reasons that Starbucks is in a rut is because the old CEO has been running it into the ground (stock has gone to shit) for the past 8 years. It wasn't until January 8th of this year that Schultz came back and took back the company (it was advertised as a 8 year "hiatus").

I agree with the point that Starbucks should target the ignorance of people, maybe even run with a line such as "Coffee made by and for Coffee people," which sounds like something that they would do. However Starbuck doesn't opperate with the idea that their coffee is bad, it is completely the opposite. So in other words: Starbucks sees that "wanna-be adult high school girls walking into class 5 minutes late with their traveller mugs" more as a someone that does understand good coffee. So chances are that they wouldn't go that route. If anything their plan is to focus on their reliability that you mentioned (a latte is the same at every location) because it is something that even their harshest critics can't deny.

alishahnovin

ALISHAHNOVIN

Actually, that isn't necessarily a bad thing for starbucks to focus on those high school girls as coffee connoisseurs. Anytime you have someone feeling like they understand something about your product that others don't, you've usually got a firm grasp of that area of the market.

If people feel they get you and they're the only ones, that's a pretty good deal.

SAMAEL

SAMAEL

I agree, I didn't mean that it is a bad thing for Starbucks to think of high school girls as coffee connoisseurs but that they genuinely think that. It's not a note on their market strategy but a comment on how they perceive themselves as a "cultural being" (these are words used by the Starbucks Corporation, they actually talk like that). My previous comment was meant to to back up my claim that Starbucks would never target the "ignorance" of people or do anything that implies that they think/know their coffee is bad, because they don't think that way.

I agree with your point on how it's a good deal that they target younger crowds as coffee connoisseurs, I have nothing against that. If anything, that's what they do. I was just saying that they, as a company, will never run with the idea that they're coffee is bad. Schultz routinely shows videos to employees that focus on the "quality of the product" and how that the coffee is the best in the Commerical world.

Also I'd like to point out that Starbucks doesn't do "commericals," however that is referring to commericals in the traditional sense. They do the odd commerical for their new not-sold-in-stores Commerical products (like the one for the Cold-Coffee Shot in a can kind of deal), they do pay alot of money for mentions in Tv and Film scripts (Mad About You, You've Got Mail etc.). However, that might all change if they don't get their stock up fast.

Alamir

Alamir

The interesting this is, Starbucks has picked up a bit on their little slump, they recently bought out the private company that makes the Clover machines, individually made drip coffee. They're current;y test driving them in Seattle and Boston. Alishah, I would love to hear the verdict once you try one. Starbucks also set up a site for customers called MyStarbucksIdea.com but you need a Starbucks account to make a suggestion. Whether or not they take suggestions seriously, I mean something like suggestions for advertising is another issue. But what I think is most interesting is that both of you guys classify Starbucks as focused on their coffee. I think that's what they might like you to think but really, its the retail experience. It's the whole ambiance, the travel mug that you can personalize, the beans, the espresso machine, the pastries, sugary fruity iced drinks. Its the whole package. If you left Starbucks with just coffee, I don't think there would be much left.

claudia

claudia

The post above this under Alamir's name was accidentally made by me.

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