Starbucks has gotten a lot of business from me over the years, drinking coffee flavored milk. They still do.
Startbucks once said that they’re not in the coffee business, they’re in the customer experience business. It was all about a premium experience that would make you seek out their coffee shop and pay the premium price for their beverage, because it had become an important part of your daily routine. That is the sign of a brand that wants to be cool – it’s not just a product, a consumable, it’s actually more than that.
But in my early years traveling the US, I always appreciated McDonalds (it’s been probably 5+ years since my last time setting foot into one of their restaurants). Not for the food, though a the Big Mac sauce had a magic touch, but because for their omnipresence and their consistency in experience. If you’re a multi-day cross-country drive, the last thing you want to do when you’re tired and hungry at the end of the day, is take a chance on a dive of a diner at the truck stop. You don’t know the area, no recommendations, and you just need food and not get sick.
It could be the best diner food you’ve ever eaten. But it could also be a totally disgusting greasy spoon. So what’s the solution. The reliable ever consistent average: McDonald’s. To be found at every major Highway exit, in every town around the US. Cheap. Mostly clean. Predictable. Not particularly memorable.
I’m currently traveling in Arizona. And I’m looking for a place to have my morning coffee. What’s the solution? Starbucks. With the app on the phone I can always find one. There are not as many Startbucks as there are McDonald’s but it’s probably not far behind.
But for the brand of Starbucks that’s not a good thing. Because now I no longer seek them out for the premium experience. Now they have become the ever consistent average, the fall-back plan if all else fails. When I’m in Manhattan, if I’m in a rush, I’ll get my Starbucks. If I have time, I try out a local coffee shop and see if I can get a more unique experience.
In my home-town, I go to the Black Cow. I know they roast their beans on Friday’s, and they don’t always have the same beans. But I like the role they play in the community. I could drive 5 miles to the next Starbucks. But it’s not that special anymore.
Companies always chase growth. But often along the way they become the next McDonalds. Don’t fall into that trap.